Day 1 in Istanbul, Turkey (10/8/21):
-BiTaksi is the Uber of Turkey.
-An Istanbulkart card is essential for all public transportation: the tram, bus, metro, and ferry. You need to activate it with your HES code. Your HES code is the number they give you when you register to enter the country.
-I don’t care what religion you are, the mosques here, inside and out, are magical. I feel like I’m in Agrabah.
-There are stray dogs and especially cats EVERYWHERE. I don’t like it, but I love that all seem taken care of. I smile every time I see a stray cat snoozing in a chair in a cafe and no one bats an eye.
-Don’t trust anyone. I wouldn’t say Istanbul is full of scammers necessarily, but I would say it’s full of people trying to rip you off. Whenever someone tries to give their pitch to you, just keep walking and say, “Sorry, I’m in a hurry!” Works every time.
-I saw a guy try to jump the metro tonight. The security, a female, stopped him. He was an average size guy and got aggressive with her. As I took a step to intervene a guy half my size stepped up and told him off. Then, another guy bigger than me. And these glorious motherfuckers manhandled him and threw him out while the female security didn’t have to raise a finger. It was awesome and restored my faith in humanity.
Day 2 in Istanbul, Turkey (10/9/21):
-The teas here really are unmatched but I prefer them cold – sue me.
-I tried saffron today and it made me feel dizzy. Thought I had taken shrooms … for the first time *wink wink*.
-I bought pure menthol though and will cherish it from this day until my last day.
-The Blue Mosque is as overrated as it gets as well as is under serious construction right now. Go to Hagia Sophia across the way instead.
-Everyone smokes shisha here. It’s not uncommon to just see a group of people hanging out on the street smoking a hookah. Vapes are nonexistent because there’s no demand for them here.
-I would put Istanbul in my top five for craziest rush hours. Cars get jammed up, that, in turn, overcrowds public transportation, then all the taxis get taken – literally.
-Turkey has a taco and a ketchup and pepper flavored Doritos here.
-Turkish delights are good but I swear you need an insulin shot after.
-I’ve been paying it forward here. It feels good to do good. Never let shitty people or experiences change being kind to others just because you can.
Day 3-5 in Alanya, Turkey (10/10/21-10/12/21):
-I’m surrounded by Russians here.
-I swear there is a KFC, Starbucks, and Subway everywhere I’ve been. Often a BK, Popeye’s and McDonald’s as well.
-Turks are probably the most pushy salesmen and I hate it.
-If you’re backpacking long-term, like me, please take a day every week or two to just relax. Go to the spa, catch up on Netflix, or read a book in a cafe.
-Everyone wears a mask, even in public. This is the only country I’ve been to where people don’t bitch and moan about something as simple as wearing a mask.
-Ironically, they are the worst with social distancing though. There’s nothing worse than being in a ferry or bus where you are jammed in neck-to-neck, to the point you’re rubbing up against each other unintentionally.