This was the most courageous trip I’ve taken so far. Firstly, this was my first international solo trip. Not only was I very young, but I was an inexperienced traveler as well.
Secondly, Turkey had some political issues which resulted in the Grand Bazaar being bombed a week before my departure
and by the way, my hotel was only a 15 minutes walk from the Grand Bazaar.
Friends, colleagues and family kept calling me, asking if I’m aware of what’s going on in Turkey, warning me not to go.
I was scared, like REALLY scared. But above that, a cloud of disappointment overshadowed me, “this could be my only chance to Europe”‘, I thought to myself. My flights are booked, hotels fully paid and tours booked as well.
It wasn’t the money that I was gonna loose that made me sad, but the experience. Loosing the experience of visiting a foreign country, meeting its people and learning about their culture,
man! that’s broke my heart.
So one of my friends
who is an Economist , told me that it was the best time to visit Turkey because their currency had lost a bit of its value, therefore, things will be cheaper, now comes a person who tells me exactly what I wanna hear.
So I packed my bags and told myself that ” if death comes, then I’m ready”
It’s 5am and we just landed in Ataturk airport in Istanbul . As I walked out of the aircraft door, I couldn’t hold myself but shed a tear, “Lord, I am in Europe”.
This was a big deal for me
Then I took a connecting flight to Izmir, then guess what? I was in Asia.
You don’t understand, it’s okay I’ll explain.
Turkey is one of the few countries that lie between 2 continents, Europe and Asia. Its capital city Istanbul, is the only city in the world that is partly Europe and partly Asia, separated by the Bosphorus strait.
Arriving to the hotel was finally a relief, and the first thing I did was to go for the Turkish bath.
This is how the Turkish bath is done…
I was told to start with a few minutes in the sauna. This allows you to relax and loosen up for a while.
Then I entered the bathing room which was a big dome covered with impressive marble, had several basins and a central raised platform above the heating source.
It’s a public bath by the way
The masseur started by washing me with warm water and soap. Then followed by scrubbing and rinsing. And lastly he put a huge layer of foam and allowed me to rest for a while.
Then he brought me dry towels and I ended up the session with a cup of Turkish tea.
After this I slept like a baby…
Taking a walk after the nap felt so refreshing, the weather was just so perfectly warm.
Seeing the beautiful quite city of Izmir, enjoying the sea breeze, feeding pigeons, that just completed me.
Everything made sense, I knew that there was more to life and I was finally experiencing it.
Then it was time to feast, eating is always better with a view, t
he food tastes nicer, don’t you think?
The few people that I met in Izmir spoke very little or no English at all.
I met 2 Turkish guys of which 1 couldn’t understand English at all. But surprisingly, the 3 of us had an awesome time. Like the Alchemist says, there is a language of the world.
I spent the next few days doing guided tours to Ephesus, which were very informative.
Then I flew back to Istanbul to spend one more night. You see, the thing with Turkey is , every province has a completely different vibe all together. Izmir is a very quiet and chilled city with Turkish men that will give you a good 5 minute stare right in the center of your eye,
yes they literally do that , while Istanbul is just one big, busy city.
I started getting bored later that evening,
remember I’m not used to traveling alone. And to make matters worse, I’m a very shy person, it’s difficult for me to approach people and make friends. So I stared googling what can I do in Istanbul. One of the sites mentioned “pub crawl”. I had no idea what that meant. I know what a pub is and I know how babies crawl, so the two words next to each other made no sense at all.
But what caught my attention were the words ” meet a group of international travelers”. I knew some of those traveler would speak English, so I’m game. As to the crawling part, that really didn’t matter,
I was gonna watch them crawl lol. As long as I will get to hear and speak English.
That became the night I got bitten by the “solo traveling bug”. All the travelers who were part of the pub crawl were young professionals, who were firstly, not working in their native countries and secondly, they were all travelling solo.
So I started asking myself questions I had no answers for;
Why am I scared of travelling alone?
Why am I scared of working abroad?
What makes them different from me?
Why am I in a rush of getting married and staring a family? Is it a personal decision or a community influenced “thing”?
Can I really afford to travel the world?