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I’m not in the best mindset when I arrive in Istanbul.
Things aren’t going well. It’s freezing cold. Nobody will exchange my Jordanian dinars. As I ride the crowded metro into the city, I quickly learn that deodorant isn’t exactly a “thing” here. And to top it off, everyone is glaring at me for bringing a huge backpack onto public transportation.
Three weeks in Turkey. Should I really have planned that? I have SO much to do — all my posts about Jordan, more posts about Emilia-Romagna, and wouldn’t it make more sense to head back to the UK, see the handsome Englishman I’ve been missing SO much, and just stay close to home — maybe some Peak District holidays in Derbyshire instead, maybe set up AdventurousKate.com’s latest office in one of the Peak District cottages? And yes, Liz Lemon is begging to climb out of me right now.
I can’t go back to the UK yet. I need to spend less than 50% of my time there until I’m able to get a visa. And since I hate paying EasyJet flight change fees, Turkey is a necessity for now.
And then something magical happens —
A car nearly hits our tram.
The driver brakes hard, and half the people on the train fall over. We pick ourselves up — and suddenly, as our eyes meet, people are no longer giving me the evil eye for my giant backpack. We look at each other and sigh with exaggerated exasperation, rolling our eyes, smiling and shrugging.
In that near-hit, we have had a bonding experience.
And my spirits brighten. I look out the window and see the red Turkish flag flying overhead for the first time ever. The city looks amazing. Each neighborhood is so different, and I know I’m only seeing a tiny fraction of Istanbul so far.
I step off the tram at Sultanahmet, and this is the first thing I see:
The Blue Mosque at sunset, illuminated perfectly.
And from that point, you can’t wipe the smile off my face. There’s street food here. There’s architecture. Istanbul is definitely a European city, but it has an exotic touch. I can’t wait to explore as much of this city as possible.
It gets better. I head to the hostel and meet Jodi and Earl for the first time in real life after knowing each other online for years. We make friends at the hostel, get food in a tiny restaurant, swap travel blogging war stories.
I’m exactly where I need to be.
Yes. This time in Istanbul is going to be GOOD.