Istanbul, Prelude


“I flew to Turkey with zero expectation. I mean, it was real zero…”


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Even from two days before my departure, I had no interest to expect much from Turkey. Let me make this simpler, I never put Turkey in my “country-to-visit-before-I-die” list. Tho I used to browse “Turkey for a week” on Google, and learned about their currency, some greetings in Turkish, but truly I wasn’t that excited to be honest.

So, how did it start?

On January this year, I finally got an agreement with the company for two weeks casual leave. It should be on February and ended by mid April (cause something happened in between, rggh). I had a fickle heart during that time to decide where to go and almost cancelled the trip. I should be over the moon right? but for some reasons I wasn’t keen to travel. Lurking at the air fare was one of the reason, too. This is why I always envy with my friends that live in Europe, where they just need to take a train for two to three hours and “greeting from Berlin!” will be on my iPhone screen like Andreas did. Or like my Ukrainian friend that I met in Istanbul (I’ll share about him on separate post) that told me he just paid around $200 for return ticket from Kiev. Flying abroad from here with only $200? FORGET IT. Airfare from and to Africa continent is always crazy. Don’t gasp if I tell you how much I paid my one way ticket from Jakarta to Lagos last year. It was $1700. Return could be cheaper but hey, it could be as close as $2800-$3000. INSANE. I was thinking I could even pass Istanbul on my way back to Indonesia when I have my annual leave. I did check the airfare for multi-city and it was reasonable. But my boss said “Azis, stick with your schedule. You need to rest. You are going to Turkey right?, just go.” 

I thought about it twice. Morocco came in between.

K, I never tell you that the agreement was included half of my ticket would be paid by the company. $883 divided into two, I paid half. It was still high right? it was! but if I didn’t take that opportunity and kept thinking about my travel cost, I would not have those beautiful moments and memories and pics for this blog :). Oh please note, that airfare wasn’t even direct flight to Istanbul. I had to transit in Cairo for 6 boring hours via EgyptAir. Not to underestimate Egypt but my flight via EgyptAir was the worst international flight I’ve experienced. How could I be on the air for almost 6 hours without even a small screen with movies or songs right in front of my seat? I don’t recommend at all :). My next flight from Cairo to Istanbul was so much better via Turkish Airlines although it was only 2 hours, but everything was good (not to mention how I enjoyed that warm sandwich with mozzarella, tomato and mushroom when I was starving by 5am!).

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“My friend, Andreas, used to say to me that traveling will give us more stories.

He’s hundred percent true


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My trip to Turkey was full of stories.

Right after I got my e-ticket, I applied the e-Visa. I used to read how easy to apply online but in my case, I found some gravels. I had to try three times here. The first try was almost done till I found that I couldn’t do the next step: payment. It was stated then that I couldn’t get the visa in this city. I found it strange till I had to read the same case on TripAdvisor forum. When my departure date was getting closer and closer, I became a bit anxious. I had to contact Turkey Embassy in the capital city but got a bit confused with dual languages on the phone. I tried to contact the Turkey Consulate General here in Lagos but no response. Till I saw one phone number people suggested on Google under Turkey Embassy so I made a call. When I was on the phone I knew it was fraud. I did explain what my visa issue was to him and he answered that the website was having a problem that moment. He told me I could get the visa from the Turkey Consulate after I sent a copy of my passport and made a payment for N 125K. Excusez-moi, that was more than $200 while the official e-Visa fee is $25! I finally got the visa after I got the additional link the Turkey Embassy sent to my email.

Another story I had when I arrived a bit late in the airport after I had to pass one bank to collect my debit cards, then went to the office to drop my hand-over notes, then traffic jam. Tho I had checked online, arrived late in the airport for international flight would give you butterflies in your stomach. I had annoying moment when I was at the passport checking point. There were two EgyptAir staffs that checked my travel docs. One lady with a very bitter no-smile face and one man who held me for more than 30 minutes. The man held my passport and asked why I only had e-Visa without OECD? I said, “Excusez-moi? what the hell is OECD?” I didn’t say what the hell but my voice tone was similar with that. I never heard about OECD before and he asked me the same question with force and one book in his hand. I looked at the book when he was re checking my e-Visa and found that “OMG! why you have to check all those countries list on that manual book and force me for OECD, there is internet in 2017 you know!”. I spent almost 40 minutes waiting for him till I had no patient and spoke to him like “I’m Indonesian passport holder. I just need e-Visa to Turkey. And I travel only for vacation, please look at this”. And he gave my passport back after I showed him one article on my iPhone, gosh that was nonsensical nonsense.

I’ll continue sharing stories from this trip on the next post. Let me refresh you with some photographs from Istanbul after my too-long prelude :P

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