A short trip to Istanbul
A part I’ve ordered for my hi-fi system finally arrived. Which means I can listen to beautiful music in my music-room again. What a perfect time to sit down and finally write a little bit about my Turkey trip.
So, with a friend I went to Istanbul for just 4 nights. And that is just not enough time for this city. At the departure gate the city makes you feel “I don’t want to leave yet”. Yes it’s a good place..
So my friend arrived on another flight and we met up at Atatürk-Airport. I was a little bit drunk because I’ve been seated next to a Russian girl and a girl from the Kurdish part of Turkey (which isn’t an official name of course), and we’ve emptied 3 small bottles of wine each talking and laughing throughout the trip. This was one of the best airplane flights I’ve ever had. I think I also learned a thing or two..
From the airport we took a taxi downtown where our hotel was. It was maybe a 25 minute ride. The taxi broke down once on the way, but I think that’s not a common thing to happen. Istanbul seems very developed, more so than some Eastern European cities. However, the traffic is a catastrophe. Our taxi got stuck a few hundred meters from the hotel, which was located just near Taksim Square. So we paid the driver and walked the rest of the way.
It was already spring there. The air was very pleasant at night. And the streets were full of people. All sorts of shops were still open, even though it was close to midnight. At one corner some folks were arguing, at another they were hugging each other. Just a general breeziness everywhere. Music for different tastes mixing into something slightly confusing. Something told us we would drink a lot of coffee here..
It felt a bit like Rio de Janeiro for me. Another city that doesn’t go to bed. And something that I was expecting didn’t occur: There were no hustlers trying to sell us things all the time. Or trying to scam us. Turns out, the Turks are laid-back folks. But if you approach them with a question or just for fun they are very open and very friendly indeed. Friendly like Romanians, actually.
Skipping the details of our arrival and itinerary, I’ll just talk about my impressions from now on.
Turkish people seem to hang out in groups a lot. Especially in night-life it seems you rarely will see anyone alone.
Oh yes, nightlife. Before that begins you go out to eat. Well, schedule 3 hours for your meal. It’s a big deal and while we were mostly done in slightly over an hour the other guests always were in the middle of things when we arrived, and still in the middle of things when we left. Big family meet ups take time, I suppose. You need to talk to everyone. I wouldn’t mind hanging out in one of those restaurants with my family..
And while I’m on the subject of eating. The food is excellent. It’s many things you know from Turkish restaurants abroad ( but how many of the dishes offered did you really try? ), plus some things I never tried before. I can’t recollect the details, but I remember having tears in my eyes from some hot tomato thing.. Food? Thumbs up in Istanbul! Definitely.
I kind of expected the Turks not to drink much alcohol. You know, because of Islam and all. Well, I was wrong. They drink a lot. :) Yes, there are cafes on rooftops ( don’t miss those when you visit ) that only serve hookah and tea. But in general Turks drink alcohol. And since this paragraph has to do with my silly religious prejudice, I can also mention that 99% of women don’t wear any head scarves and so forth. Think tight jeans..
But, you get the prayers several times a day. This makes for a nice atmosphere. Especially when the prayer chant is mixing with the music from the club next door that is still open even though the sun is up.
Back on the street there’s one thing to say: Some are crowded as hell. To the point where it seems futile to go certain ways. Especially at night.
Well, we rarely left Beyoglu unless we went for sightseeing in Fatih, but there was always many people on the streets. Day and night. Or in the trams. ( Don’t make the mistake to take a tram at rush hour. Unless you can make yourself really thin I suppose.)
Well, what is there to see?
A fucking lot. (As proud owners of the Museum Pass) we just looked at the most important things which include the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. The palace. Beautiful. But my highlight was the Archaeological Museum. Top-tip.
It’s like walking through time. You get the Greeks, you get the Christians and finally the Ottoman Empire. There’s something great walking through these exhibits. Turkey is such a key part in human history, it’s all there. Even Egyptian caskets and so forth. (It’s always nice to see caskets, skulls and ruins, anyway.)
Yeah, if I go back, I’ll go visit that Museum again.
And yes, there’s the markets. With all the haggling going on. And many more mosques. And there’s the boats that go across the Bosporus to Asia. Which we also did. The best thing about that was the sunset when returning to Europe. Will all the ships calmly going their way and the great old city unfolding in front of us.
About people we’ve met.
I already said the Turks were laid back. I really liked every one we met. The girls can be very beautiful. But they never leave their group long enough to make a successful approach.. Sigh. Well, we met some. One was a history student that taught us a bit about the conflict with the Kurds. Another we met showed us some fantastic places (bars, clubs, even a concert we saw because of her) we would not have found otherwise. We met some foreigners from Sweden and Norway. And I’ve hugged many people, I don’t know how many. Yeah, Istanbul really made us feel good
Perhaps it was the first days of spring. Perhaps it was our expectations. But I really left with a nice warm feeling in my heart. And my travel companion said something that can be roughly translated into something like that, too. :)
Now I want to go back and I also want to see more of Turkey.
You know how there’s a place you visit and you think, yeah, that’s nice. But some places feel like you could imagine to live there. They feel like a good home. The vibes match your vibes. There’s chemistry.
I never expected it. But it really might be like that in Istanbul for me. I don’t know. I suppose I would have to return to find out for sure.
But I can recommend Istanbul to everyone. It’s a very beautiful, very romantic destination. Should I have a (serious) girlfriend again, I will take her there. So she can fall in love a little bit more. (And me, too) Istanbul will help with that. No question about it.
( P.S.: Turkish Airways is a great airline. First time I really enjoyed an airplane meal! )
I have followers.
Just clicked around Tumblr for a bit. Looks like I have quite a few followers! Thank you, you are all wonderful people.
Also, 95% of you seem to be cute girls.. hmm. I should create an email address so that you can tell me when you come to my country. So we can have coffee. (But probably I’ll just get beaten up or something.)
Do ya’ll even use email? It seems to be an old people thing to do.
When you have a soulless boring corporate-job one day, you’ll have an email address. But most of you are from eastern Europe I suppose, so you will take your job seriously but not too seriously. Do you know what I mean? You gorgeous people.
I have readers!
When I was a child I and two friends ran a school paper. But there was another one already, so there was competition. But unlike them we made up all our news. So it was more entertaining and we sold quite a few. We also had a deal with some company, and we put free advertising CDs on every issue. This was a genius marketing move, until people found out that the content of those CD-ROMs was worthless crap.
Anyway. Yes, you should also start something. While your friends watch stupid TV shows or get wasted, you should be working on something. Something little or something big.
Here’s old guy advice.
For one, don’t stare at your smartphone all the time. It will make your neck stiff and you will be killed by a bus, because the driver was checking his Twitter.
Then, start something. And: Travel. There’s nothing better.
But don’t fall for the tourist-traps. For example: You can get up to Big Jesus in Rio for free if you don’t mind some climbing and wild monkeys looking down at you from the trees. I tried. And in Japan you don’t need a hostel room. You can just sleep in an Internet cafe. They have lockable compartments with comfy couches. They have showers there, too. And Internet. Things like that, be creative. Couchsurf, why not. And always negotiate the price for everything else. Especially in countries where it doesn’t get cold at night.
Ha. I’ll go to Turkey soon. It’s probably where they invented negotiating. I will learn from the best. I will bring back a fake Rolex watch. And cheap Kobe Bryant basketball shoes.
Anyway, I want to do my laundry now.
Have a good night, girls.
Girls in Eastern Europe
Just had a talk with a friend who commented that in Croatia all these very young women are pushing baby strollers. He wondered why that is.
In University by accident (Once, I opened the door and she kissed me, mistaking me for somebody else - on the cheek though) I had a relationship with a married Romanian girl. She didn’t have a child, but she got married when she was 18. To spite her parents. And to move out.
Later I met a Bulgarian girl who left home almost exactly the day she turned 18. She engaged on a voyage that could be made into a movie, including crime and whatnot, just to finally settle down in Germany. I have written about her before.
I have more examples, but the point is, that perhaps there’s a strong urge in young people to get out of home and into the world. I think especially in girls. Boys in those countries made a less, shall I say, independent-seeking impression on me.
I respect people that go after their goals, instead of munching off mommy and daddy until they finally leave university, and home, at the age of 30. I have no time for these people.
But of course there’s more. There’s femininity, the desire to hook up with a good guy and be a good girl. Perhaps I have no idea what I am talking about, but this is just my experience and interpretation of events.
There’s probably also the libido. Call me even shallower (even though I think it is the opposite of shallow), but eastern european girls are much more passionate.
On my last trip to Romania I had the best first kiss of my life. I can’t imagine drugs being better. The passion, horniness and loveliness of it was amazing. Compare that with some German girls I kissed.. Man, I can’t even compare that.
Perhaps it’s just my genes that match up better with EE-girls, though.
I wrote before that I don’t want to get married. But if I did, I am 100% sure it would be a girl from these parts.
Btw. My next trip is going to be Turkey. Finally, I am going there. Any of you been and has any tips for me? (Is it even possible to comment on Tumblr? I don’t know.)
“I was full of prejucide when i went there, but once you get to know some normal Ukrainians and they invite you to their home, all the effort they put in is really touching.”
A friend of mine that just came back from his holiday. He was very reluctant to go, but he had a fantastic time. :)
Travel Tip in Germany
This weekend I’ve been invited to go to the boat expo in Düsseldorf and we also spent the evening partying in town. My verdict: It’s a great place to have fun! (In Germany.)
The people are very different from Munich, Berlin or Hamburg. It feels almost as if going to another country. Perhaps it is the proximity to the Netherlands, who knows. They are very talkative and talk to you like you’re an old friend. Especially over beer.
They drink those small beers (0.25 litre glasses) and if you finish one, you immediately get the next one unless you put your coaster on top of the glass. We had a lot of these last night.
I’ve been told that Düsseldorf people are “superbly shallow”. The guy who explained further said that it’s very easy to find someone to drink and have fun with, but one should not expect making new friends easily.
I don’t know. But if you plan a Germany trip then include Düsseldorf and it’s many bars to your itinerary.
Here’s a picture of a beer:
My best friend called me drunk the other night. He was in Poland, attending a Polish wedding. He was having a good time.
He shouted into the receiver how awesome the people are, how beautiful the girls, how good the food and how substantial the amounts of vodka served. But most of all he enjoyed the people and their capacity to party and, basically, to be happy.
We are living in Germany and it is a good place.
Most things work, there’s plenty of opportunity, we can feel safe and we earn good money, and we can be proud of the good cars we make. Or how well our social security system works. Germans can party, too (right now it’s Octoberfest, where they really do - dancing on tables and whatnot). But man, it’s just no comparison to Eastern Europe.
When I was a student one of my trips abroad was a two week exchange to Poland, to the university of Gdansk. We would hang out there, study their culture, university life and parties. It was like day and night compared to Germany.
Imagine you are in a Polish dorm. There’s two people in each room, and four rooms share one shower and toilet. You have to get up early or possibly wait and miss your class. And when you have a job you earn very little. There’s probably not much cash left to spend on entertainment.
In Germany you get free education, a nice dorm with a private room, and you can have a relaxed life with extra cash that you can spend on toys and travel.
But I bet studying in Poland is more fun. Being there feels more alive. In the dorm, everyone talks to everyone, people know each other. There’s parties almost every night. The whole building is crowded and bubbling with action. Laughs, discussions, someone always finds a reason to celebrate.
German dorm: Silence. People hardly know each other. Nobody really knows his neighbour, this is a place for sleeping. You drop a coin in the corridor and the sound echoes for seconds.
And I still feel the same nowadays. This year I went to Romania, to Bulgaria and, most recently, to Croatia. And it’s the same: It’s more alive, the people are more fun to be around, everything is warmer and more welcoming.
Not that Germans are cold and hate you. No, not at all.
But man, there’s a difference in quality. Something that is better. More normal actually. That is how people should be. Germans seem to be missing that certain joie de vivre..
And that is why I fully agree with my friend who called me. Eastern Europe is the place to be.
If you haven’t been there yet, go. And don’t just stay in your hotel or the nearest Planet Hollywood. Meet the locals. Go out and drink. And you’ll know what I mean.
Why am I still here?
There are upsides to being here. The people are great. I think I have made some new friends. Two nights ago I met a girl and we ended up in my apartment. She is an artist, maybe a little bit of a hippie. She promised to show me her apartment that is full of painting supplies. She promised to draw a portrait of me.
I have figured out all the small things. Very basic words to show courtesy such as hello, how are you, thank you and so on. I have a nice apartment. I know good places to shop and I am a regular at a small gym that has all I need without attracting a large crowd so I can work out without waiting. I work every day on my own software-project and try to eat well.
I have delayed going back home twice already.
It’s not that big of a deal, it’s not far. Just 5 hours of driving through the great landscape in Slovenia and Austria, and then I am almost home.
This morning I woke up early, turned on some web-radio stream and lay in my bed thinking why I don’t want to go back.
I miss the people, I have a friend that became a father, I want to drink to that with him. I miss the guys I have met at my last job. I want to know what they are up to. I also should go back to my home, I mean the place of my childhood, which is in the north of Germany. I should perhaps also consider getting the next gig so I can earn more money. Isn’t that what society tells you to do?
But then again I have no responsibilities. I have no wife, no children. I have more than enough money to do nothing for a long time. But of course that is not fulfilling either. That’s why I have my own projects. I just think.. nay, feel, that the .. usual bullshit isn’t meant for me.
What I do is not very dangerous. It’s much safer here than, say, in Rio de Janeiro. Or some town in Southeast Asia..
Yet it positively feels like an adventure. I’ve said this before: When you travel the days get longer. (Unless you are on a binge drinking trip I guess.) Everyday here feels like 2 or 3 at-home-days. Time is a snail.
And sure, sometimes it gets boring. But then I just work and eventually something happens. The phone beeps and something’s up or it doesn’t. Either way.. it’s satisfying to make shit up, to make life up, as you go.
Hmh.. Perhaps I am idealising too much.
Sure, if this was my home I would probably feel the same way about Germany, but that is not the point.
The mission is to find new angles on life, new perspectives and new ideas. And so far I haven’t found anything in live that helps me achieve that as well as travel.
I think I will return soon, though. And then catch a flight to my hometown to visit friends and family. But I am sure there will be this itch to do this again.
I have a few destinations in mind.
No Travel Apps (Another Reason not to buy Nokia)
I bought a “Windows Phone 7”-phone because it seemed stylish and fast. There aren’t as many apps, but who cares, I thought. I don’t use many apps except something for note-taking, SMS and the email software.
But now I wish I had an Android or iPhone. There seem to be some neat travel apps there that just aren’t available for my Nokia.
Serenity now, Insanity later
Zagreb is really not far away from home and it shows by the number of Germans one sees here. Wandering around, appreciating the architecture. Drinking beer.
I have met up with the author, V., again last night.
We went to a club near the lake in the south of the city. It was a long night of drinking vodka with ice. Around 2:50 he almost gets into a bar fight.
He announces: “Serenity now!” Then winks. “Insanity later.”
I like a man that knows his Seinfeld.
Fast forward a bit…
Around 5:00 he announces: “I will try to fuck the German girl in the bushes!”
And he did.
V. is one charismatic son of a bitch. It appears that he is often drunk. But damn, he is a fantastic talker. It’s really hard to not be drawn in. He is also constantly on the road for almost two years now. Meeting him here makes this place more exotic. Especially when he starts talking Russian or Portugese. Possibly to impress a girl.
The next day I wake up in my temporary home at 10 because the phone rings. Then I check my email. A friend became a father. He attaches pictures of his wife and the new-born child.
Last night seems meaningless now. We have a new fellow citizen.
For a second or two I am contemplating my own age and lack of children. Or even a wife. Or girlfriend. What am I doing? What is V. doing? Three nights ago he says: “You don’t get married, you’re unhappy. You get married, you’re unhappy.”
I think we should live to broaden our skills and to extend our knowledge. It does not matter that when we die, everything we have learned and experienced probably disappears into nothigness. It’s still a good way to spend the time on this planet. And every time we meet somebody we influence that person. And vice versa. So the more we know.. the more interesting things are for everyone. While we’re here.
There’s one problem though. Many worthwhile things aren’t obtained without risk. Real or perceived risk. We must play dangerously from time to time.
I find it very annoying when fear keeps me from doing something that must be done. Or should be done. And when my subconscious is inventing excuses to not do certain things.
I moved into my new apartment today. It’s outside of the main area, south of the river, in a tall soviet-era building. It’s cozy, has fast Internet, but there’s nothing interesting in the vicinity. Also at night it’s quite dark and seems deserted.
Nothing much else happened. Except perhaps:
I was having a coffee somewhere when I saw a very pretty girl selling ice-cream on the street. I watched her and she kept looking over, from time to time interrupted by children that she sold her wares to. Or her mobile phone. Eventually I walked over and introduced myself.
She seemed happy about it and also a little bit nervous. We talked about her studies and how half of Zagreb disappears during the summer because everyone migrates to the beaches.
An old lady interrupted and bought her granddaughter an ice cream.
Then I asked the girl when she is finished with work and told her that I want to have a drink with her when she is done. Unfortunately she declined. It was worth a try, I thought.
Later I passed the same corner where she was working while she was closing up shop.
Her boyfriend picked her up.
Gdje je zabava?
"Gdje je zabava?" - That’s from a printout of Croatian phrases that I carry around in my pocket. It means: "Where is the party?"
Two days ago I have arrived in Zagreb.
Once again I got the itch to travel and I started playing around with Google Maps, switching back and forth between the map and flight search engines. So many possibilities.. Buenos Aires, Medellin, I heard Cambodia is an adventure..
I also read a few blogs regularly. About half of them are travel oriented. And what do you know: One of my favourite bloggers and book authors is in Zagreb! Might just as well go there I decided. Even if there is no meet up, it still is a place that I have never been to. And it’s close, less than six hours of.. driving.
So yeah, I came here, met the guy, had a good time drinking with him. And now, after two days I am homeless again. Luckily I just have a small bag of stuff and a car that can ( in the worst case scenario ) be used as an apartment.
Just kidding. There is of course no need.
I have found a cheap hotel far away from the city centre for tonight. And from tomorrow on I have a furnished apartment. With Wi-Fi and a washing machine. Not as cheap as I hoped, but close to the middle of things.
About this city.
As far as I know, Croatia’s main business is tourism, but that is not a good enough explanation for the incredible friendliness of the people. They are just so NICE.
I wonder about three things:
1. Are they so nice because there’s not so many tourists in Zagreb? ( I assume most people go to the beaches and places like Hvar, Split and Dubrovnik in the south. )
2. Are they nice to each other and their neighbours, too?
3. How on earth was there a war here just years ago?
Anyway, more research is needed.
For now I enjoy the weather and the good tram system where you never buy tickets. Yep, don’t buy a ticket. I tried an an older lady stopped me with a “Don’t be a sucker”-look. Then a younger one explained to me how to spot a train-cop.
She was a law student.
I asked her: “But doesn’t this behavior lead to anarchy?”
"Yes, maybe." And then she laughed.
It’s the laughter that made my day. Not the reason for it.
Those fantastic people. And those beautiful Croatian women.
Okay, it’s time to move to my - no doubt brilliant - room in that hotel. If I can find it.