“Ooooh … Istanbul … so lush,” Gemma had exclaimed before I departed from Spain to Turkey.
In my mind, there was something so exotic about Turkey, some mystical, magical place where Europe hit Asia with thunder.
Arriving into Istanbul, I was far from disappointed.
When I boarded the Havas bus at the airport (I flew into Sabiha Gocken, the Istanbul airport on the Asian side of the country), I met Joe, a guy from Barcelona visiting the country for the first time.
As if I wasn’t excited enough, he fueled it even more, exclaiming as we drove by the colored homes, over the large bridges, “I can’t believe we are in Istanbul!”
He and I separated ways in Taksim after exchanging numbers, and I headed down to Guilhane to Harmony Hostel.
Of course, even with detailed directions, I got lost.
“Where are you going lady?” “Can I help you?” “Do you need a room?” “Where are you from?” Men called to me from their shops and restaurants. At first, I ignored them, thinking back to Morocco, and then I just let it all in.
They gave me directions, offered to carry my bags, kissed my hands, asked me to come back later and talk to them … ahh, those Turkish men.
I arrived to Harmony Hostel after a few minutes talking to one particular carpet shop owner who proudly displayed a feature a magazine did on him before I was able to scoot away.
I was baffled.
A rug shop. No hostel.
I looked up at the red and white sign displaying the name.
Yup. Harmony Hostel.
I looked to the doors. Rug shop. Tattoo/body piercing shop. Next building.
“You need a hostel?” A tall, young man with a silly grin on his face, called to me, popping his head out of the rug shop.
“Yup,” I said, gesturing to the backpack on my back, the messenger bag swung around my neck. “Where is Harmony?”
“In here, my friend! In here,” he said, directing me into the rug shop.
Well, this is new.
We walked through the rug shop, over the fake wood floors and up two flights of cement stairs. Then, we crammed into a little elevator, and went up four more flights, then got out, and walked up another two flights of stairs.
D, a backpack and a million stairs to climb does not equal happy.
I greeted the girl at reception, a petite brunette who told me my room was back down nearly half of those stairs. As I was checking in, a familiar face caught my eye.
“Hey there,” I said, turning to the pale, blue-eyed guy sitting on one of the cushions. “Brasov … Kismet Dao … do you remember me?”
He blinked a few times and then smiled.
“Yes! I do! How are you?”
Craig and I went through a quick catch-up. We had met in Brasov and hung out one night together. It was nice to see another familiar face, even if he was heading out to Bulgaria in two hours.
We chatted until he left, and then, hot and tired, I went down to my room where I quickly passed out.
I awoke the next day ready to see Istanbul.