End of September 2014 I arrived in Istanbul together with Alex and Remi. Nothing prepares you for the traffic in Istanbul, it’s unforgiving for cyclists. The stories were right and we experienced it first hand. It took us more than two hours to get from the west part of the city to the neighborhood nearby Sultanahmet. Even with lot of traffic congestion’s we had to be sharp not to be hit by a car. Drivers in Istanbul are not used to share the road with cyclists. As Remi put it : “I just discovered that I have a new power, I’m invisible for cars!“. And so it felt. Even if you are right in front of a car, the driver will not give in and keep on riding. This stressed me out a bit. I was so relieved when we arrived at the hostel. We stayed at the Sinbad hostel, a cheap option with very basic services. Could have been cleaner and cozier, but it suited our needs.
The first days I felt a bit tired and opted to stay-in and investigate what I needed to arrange for my visa for India, which I finally didn’t get due incomplete documentation (proof of residence, solvency certificate and flight tickets). Also, after 4000 km my bicycle was in need of a revision, so I researched were I could find a decent bicycle shop, being Bisiklet Gezgini (situated in Kadikoy district) the perfect option. The remaining days I enjoyed being a tourist.
Being bored of staying at the hostel I tried to find an alternative with a couchsurfing or warmshowers contact, but I wasn’t successful. Knowing that I was looking for a host, Zahide whom I met in Erdine, helped me out by looking for a contact through a facebook group called couchRail. A group that is formed to help the young (and not so young) Turkish community to travel in their own country. Building upon the tradition of cooperation and socialization tradition within Turkey. So I met Burcu Ö, whom agreed to host me for a day. So I packed my stuff and head out to the Kadikoy district. I must say, this is by far my favorite place in Istanbul, away from the main touristic sights and hectic parts of the city.
Burcu (who is currently working as an architect) welcomed me and shared some of her favorite spots around her home. In the evening, Remy and Silvia (a Cameroonian lady I met at the hostel) joined us for dinner and some drinks.
Later that night I got to meet Burcu’s flatmates: Ayten and her sister. The evening ended with sharing our favorite music and Turkish coffee reading. According to the girls my future seemed promising. The next morning I was indulged with their company and typical Turkish breakfast. And then it was time to say goodbye.
Along the trip Burcu has helped me out a couple of times by vouching for me on the couchRail group and translating some of my requests for finding a host. Such a nice and interesting lady. Whom loves to travel and to share.
All of my respect and gratitude for Burcu. You will always be welcome at my home, where ever that might be.