Galata, Topkapı & Ortaköy II


While I’m writing this sentence, my mind is thinking about Hakan and Safoine.

Perhaps, I’m missing them…


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We didn’t really spend time at Galata Tower. Olga, a Russian lady who works in the hostel I stayed told me, “Galata Tower’s so boring, what you could do up there just to see Istanbul from above”. I must agree at some points, but spending time together with Hakan and Saf and ended with a photo of myself wearing Turkish traditional costume was interesting enough (it wasn’t really cheap but worth to try for a memory-wise). I wanted to have a photograph together with Hakan and Saf but couldn’t be accomplished cause hell ya, the queue was crowded and we had to change the costume very quickly. I had no brave to show how I was on the photograph cause I looked so shabby,le pardon!. I must say Hakan looked so handsome and so royal wearing the traditional costume complete with a sword like a real sultan (he’s Turkish by blood, no surprises).

Writing this post after nine months still give me goosebumps and clear memories how I enjoyed every single second I had in Istanbul.

After we left Galata Tower, we spent an hour plus at a small cafe with friend talks, Turkish sweet delights on our table, some French words Hakan taught me (holy shit it was difficult af!), and for sure, some photos before heading to the harbor under Galata Bridge for a boat ride. It was one of “I’m waiting for this!” moment cause I heard crossing the European side of Turkey to Asian side’s such a must do. The ticket isn’t that expensive as far as I remember. Of course it made me so excited before we finally entered the ferry. We came out from the ferry just less than five minutes cause Saf was faint and I felt so dizzy af but it didn’t stop us to enjoy the day cause our next destination? The dazzling place called Topkapı Palace.

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At Topkapı Palace, I was awed with the fact how time created such a mind-blowing histories years ago. One of the highlight from our visit was when we entered a room where most of important holy relics are being collected: the hair of Prophet Mohammad’s beard, his footprints, letters, also the tray used by Abraham, the sword of David, the rope of Joseph and the chest of Prophet Mohammad’s daughter, Fatimah.

Photographs are forbidden in that room but memorizing the relics only with your own brain and eyes would give you an experience. Especially when you hear the mellifluous Quran verses echo in the air softly, I had a serious goosebumps then. If you are a moslem like me and planning to visit Istanbul, put Topkapı Palace in your must-visit list.

Before we left, we managed our time at one restaurant inside Topkapı Palace with three cups of Turkish tea, a bowl of Turkish delight and fresh strawberries. It was just a casual beautiful afternoon in spring with a view of Bosphorus Strait.


“But for me, it was one of the most memorable moments I had with Hakan and Saf”



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…we didn’t end our day at Topkapı Palace…

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We took a taxi to a place which later I knew was Ortaköy. It was definitely Hakan’s idea to spend our day there since me and Saf hadn’t been there before. Ortaköy is one of most popular districts in Istanbul where a lot of cafes, bars, and stalls located on cobblestone roads. The idea taking a taxi to Ortaköy was a great one I have to say. It wasn’t because I mostly used metro for a “cheaper” option, it was great because I could remember all the scenes on the road. Something I couldn’t do if we took metro (I recorded an iPhone video while we were inside, of Saf, you showed me a picture from your visit at Chefchaouen!!). Even we had a light traffic on the road, it didn’t stop us to enjoy Ortaköy after we prayed inside the beautiful mosque on the coast, Ortaköy Mosque.

After praying, we enjoyed the cool evening by strolling around the bazaar then went to have a snack. Hakan and Saf might call “it” as a snack (I called Hakan double portions till today :)) but for me, it was a huge baked potato (man, it was really huge!) till I couldn’t finish it (was it the time Hakan created “mister half-portion” for me cause I eat small? sigh, I couldn’t remember). It was quite interesting for me eating baked potato with “you could choose any toppings you like” in Istanbul.



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Hagia Sophia


“I woke up on my last morning in Istanbul with less than hundred Turkish Lira…”


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I also woke up with a patency my vacation was over and only had one more day to make everything counts.

I had a plan to end my trip with a proper fancy breakfast at one corner of a cafe, sitting nicely when the spring sun was bright but cool. I had a plan when I could pick some new stuffs for myself along İstiklal Caddessi. But none I could achieve.

I was in my hostel room cross checking my luggage, my camera and counted how much money I had left. I fought myself not to have erratic heart to visit Hagia less than a hundred of Turkish Lira from the one Hasan loaned me. I took a bath, no breakfast of course, grabbed my jacket and camera, then walked to Sultanahmed district. I remember, the morning breeze was something else. Smooth and cool. The sky was blue and clear. The reason why I loved spring.

I smiled along the way that fighting my erratic heart brought me to a beautiful secret place full of histories called Hagia Sophia.

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I was there before it’s getting crowded. It actually opens by 9am, so getting there before 9 is the best time to get a ticket. When I first walked in after paid TL40, I had a real goosebumps. There is a reason why this place is popular. Me that is not into history enjoyed so much staring at those amazing details on every corner of the building while reading the stories and wondering how possible they built this grand building back then (you’ll find some beautiful cats too). Every corner of Hagia tells how great the histories on those days were.

I wish I had a longer time to explore but then I had no regret I left with a bigger smile.

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Hibiya Park

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I found myself walking without a clear destination on one cloudy afternoon in Tokyo…


I was actually trying to kill my time before meeting Hiromi, my Japanese good friend lives in Tokyo that day. Apart of our meeting, a thing made me pleased was enjoying time in one of my fav cities again with a camera in hand.

If on my first visit to Japan last year I had no proper camera cause shit happened at a very first day, this year I had Sony A6300 with a proper lens :) I was enjoyed so much taking picture whatever, wherever without carrying some worries with me. Before I met Hiromi in the evening, I sat down on a bench at Hibiya Park. I had no clue what to do there but doing nothing at a beautiful public space like Hibiya, with birds were singing in the sky, greens everywhere, a packed of supermarket sushi, and a cool breeze on late summer, I had enough. Not to mention it’s very relaxing place to stretch my legs cause you know, walking in Tokyo counts as an exercise. Full stop :)

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I have stories to share from my second trip to Japan, some are unforgettable for me :) more to come!

Bromo

I felt such a naughty fellow everytime I lied to some of my good friends for not answering the same questions last month: “When are you flying to Indonesia?”


“No, I don’t feel to go home” – “Well, I don’t mind to spend my annual leave in Morocco instead” – “I have no ticket yet, hey I have told you I won’t go home this year” – even to my mom, “Maybe I won’t go home”

Yeah, you can call me a puckish fake actor perhaps. Don’t count the one to my mom as a lie, it was just the way I loved to surprise her, promise.


I might be a liar yet couldn’t lie to myself how it felt when I had passed immigration in Lagos airport. When I sent a picture of my passport to my very best friend, Andreas Knogler, he immediately replied “Nice feeling, huh?”, I said, “Yeah it felt the same” :)

I have been here in Indonesia for eighteen days already SIGH TIME FLIES TOO FAST!!! HOW COME THIS HAPPENS AGAIN!

Nothing but grateful still had time to hang out with my best friends few times for food hunting, coffees, friend talks, and managed two days to finally visit Mount Bromo for the first time cause funny enough I live in Surabaya which isn’t that far. Woke up by 3am to catch the sunrise (how peaceful it was, not to mention the crowd tho), climbed 250 steps just to see the crater, managed to take photographs with some dust flying made a quite exhausted morning that I thought having an afternoon tea at Aman Tokyo with Alice Gao sounds more me :) (Andreas would definitely love this kind of trip since one of his hobbies is hiking)

Apart of that, things made me grafetul the most was the fact that I spent the time there with Ruli’s family (after five years I couldn’t make time to see his parents!). Do you think some scenes below’s such in Mars?


 

Galata, Topkapı & Ortaköy I

were three places we created those friendship memories…


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Spring breeze that night was icier. I was running in hurry on my way back to the hostel with a happy smile on my face. Had to admit that I was so stoked on the day I met Hakan and Saf. It didn’t come to my mind I would meet and became close friends instantly just like that, spent time together till midnight (anything better than ice creams and friend’s laughters to end the day?). Back to where I met them for the first time, Saf was the first person who offered me to join him and Hakan if I had no place to go. I almost said no to Saf yet I kept it in my mind till I remembered something: “while you have no itinerary on this trip, so make it memorable with unpredictable, unplanned, unexpected things!.”

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“Where do you have in mind to spend tomorrow at, Hakan?”


 

Since it was Saf’s first visit in Istanbul, Hakan was his guide if I may say. Key questions about the city went directly to Hakan if we had some. When Hakan mentioned about “boat” on Bosphorus Strait, I won’t say no when he offered me on the second day. If you googled things to do in Istanbul for the first time, boat tour is among the top must do. Before boat tour, Galata Tower was the first place we visited.

We agreed to meet there at 11 in the morning. Hakan said 10am before but I knew we won’t make it cause hello, spent a whole day and ended by walking from Sultan Ahmed till Taksim Square in midnight wasn’t a joke (Istanbul has many uphill alleys, kindly note). I took sometimes earlier before I met them by enjoying a buffet at Parole İstiklal on my way to Galata. I shouldn’t tell you the truth this brekkie scenes more like ‘picture-purpose’ yet I did enjoy Turkish chai in spring. I’m serious.

As much as I enjoyed Istanbul, I tried to take my time to do one of my favourite things when I’m traveling: starting my morning with a cup of cappuccino in a coffee shop. When Hakan sent me a message they would be a bit late, I took my time to linger around to take some pictures and ended with a coffee right in front of Galata Tower. I was about to tease myself spending my Turkish Lira to bring home one of cute vintage table lamp from a small shop (designer’s temptation, classic – full stop). Nevertheless, I didn’t enter when I finally saw Hakan and Saf were walking hurriedly. A bit confused but I understood why it took sometimes for them to arrive at our meeting point. Hakan said, “there were three men behind us when Saf wanted to get a new ring but we didn’t take it” while Saf added after, “so sorry Azis, we didn’t mind to unrespect you by came late”.

I answered, “so let’s get tickets and enjoy Istanbul from above”. 

Surely, with a bright smile on my face cause we would spend a whole day together.





More pictures to come on part II :)

 

Happy Eid Mubarak for those who celebrate! I wonder to celebrate Eid next year in somewhere new. Marrakech perhaps? Or even, Paris? Dreaming is free, right :)

One Of The Best Mornings I Ever Had

indeed…


If there is one thing that makes me hate my very best friend, Andreas Knogler, is when he greets me from somewhere new in Europe. He did it few times. From Denmark, Greece, Germany, Romania, Slovenia, and the last one was from Croatia. Next, will be from Kosovo (oh wait, he’s in Croatia again today!). Do I really hate him? YES, I do. No, I’m kidding. Yes, I’M SURE I DO. No wait, envious? I think that is the word.

When I made a joke that Andreas will always be a winner comparing his travel history with mine, he laughed “my geographical location is better Azis, so it doesn’t count”. For me, it counts! So when I had an opportunity to runaway from hectic and crazy Lagos and flew to Turkey, I already thought I should “greeting from Istanbul, Andreas!” to get one score. Tho I’m still far away behind his score, I always find interesting every time we share our travel stories.

The time I was stoked sending a short video to Andreas when I was at the downtown in Cappadocia. He replied me that his dad, onkel Knogler, was there last year and enjoyed it so much. I must agree with the fact that it is hard not to enjoy a dazzling place like Cappadocia. Even by writing this sentence makes me dream to enjoy Cappadocia one more time!

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“I was on the phone with Andreas just few minutes before I ended my day. Few hours before I had to wake up at 3.30am”


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On day one when I arrived at my hotel, the lady in the reception told me that perhaps the balloon flight on my schedule might be cancelled. She wasn’t sure but the pilot had announced the chance to fly was 70%. “But I had checked on forecast that tomorrow will be sunnier than today” I said. “It depends on the wind, but he’s not sure. We will let you know in the evening if it cancel or not” she smiled. No worries, Azis came with no expectation, huh? so he shouldn’t be disappointed if he couldn’t finally be on the hot air balloon.

I woke up very early tho I wasn’t ready to leave my bed (you know why, soft bed, thick white blanket, and cool morning). I stood under the shower very quickly, prayed, and sat on the couch in the reception before 4.30am. It was silent, no one there but a receptionist. “Am I late?”, he answered with smile, “No, don’t worry, 10 minutes before your pick up time”

The shuttle bus arrived. I sat nicely inside with few travelers on the same purpose heading to a place where we took light breakfast. Inside the room, there were so many people ready for an exciting experience. Most of them were dressed super stylish like as if they were ready having pictures of themselves with the best possible appearance. I sat down with a cup of hot tea, few cheeses, strawberries, a slice of bread, and light conversation with a solo female traveler from Colombia. She was in Turkey only for 3 days, didn’t know that she had to reserve in a prior to the balloon flight. She looked a bit dissatisfied yet I could see how excited she was for 73 days ahead exploring Europe.

Thirty minutes after breakfast time, I stood in front of some balloons with an exciting feeling, also my dread to be up there.




When I was enjoying Istanbul from above in Galata Tower with Hakan and Saf, I was worried how would it feel inside the basket for my balloon flight. I mean, Galata Tower just about 206 feet high huh, and I was a bit terrified when breeze was blowing. I don’t have acrophobia, but wondering myself inside the basket and way up, up there, I was scared shitless. If you never or you’re planning to experience hot air balloon, there’s nothing you need to worry about cause the pilot is experienced and certificated.

When the balloon starts go up and up, you’ll definitely enjoy the view like nowhere else. I was on cloud nine when we were up. It wasn’t scary at all. Admiring the stunning landscape of Cappadocia from hot air balloon just before the edge of the sun appears over the horizon in the morning was unbelievable.

I had never imagined I would have an opportunity to experience it by myself this year. I had never imagined I did it, went up there to feel, to see and to remember, one of the best mornings in my life. In Cappadocia.



“I’m not a travel blogger you guys know :), but I could share some tips if you’re planning to experience this by yourself…”


  • Trust me, tho it’s not that cheap, it is worth it for a life time experience (yes, Cappadocia balloon flight is among top 3 in the world). I guess your trip to Cappadocia wouldn’t be accomplished without hot air ballooning :)
  • It’s way much better to reserve your schedule days before and it is also important to check the weather on forecast. As mentioned above, the flight depends on the wind. I picked my date when it was sunny, I mean, if the day is clear it should be safer than cloudy day right?
  • When you have date for your stay in Cappadocia and hot air balloon is in your bucket list, prepare minimum three days including your arrival. In case your schedule is being cancelled, you’ll have a chance to fly on the next day. Before I checked out on my last day, I heard a convo between two Asian ladies and the receptionist. They were disappointed cause their flight was cancelled. So, I was lucky everything went well huh? :)
  • You’ll be so passionate to take million of pictures when you are up there with your camera, that’s okay, but give time for yourself to enjoy the moment. Photograph captures a moment that’s gone forever I know, but when you are up there, drop the camera and close your eyes for seconds, take a deep breath, open your eyes widely then capture the real moment in your mind. Trust me, you’ll remember the moment too well
  • Dress moderately but clever, you must prepare that up there could be colder. I wore a tee, a sweater and a jacket to make me warm yet still comfortable :)
  • Listen to the pilot’s instruction for your own safety, they’ll brief you do’s and don’t’s before flying. A little practice for landing is one of the important thing you must do. My flight was 100 percent smooth, I did not have to do what I practiced after the basket landed on the ground
  • Don’t forget to be grateful if you have an opportunity to experience this by yourself :)

Day Five, Cappadocia


“I guess for everyone who has been to Cappadocia will agree with me, Cappadocia is something else.”


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Since I travelled with no expectation from my very first day, I had no regret if there was place/something I couldn’t visit or achieve in Turkey. It could be different when you have high expectation about a place and in the end you will say, “this is not what I had in mind”. If you haven’t been to or you are planning to visit Turkey, I must tell you this: Turkey is stunning. Turkey is a dazzling country. I mean it.

I landed at Kayseri Erkilet Airport in the afternoon with a stunning view of Mount Erciyes Dağı right after my arrival. On my fifth day in Turkey, Kayseri welcomed me with a warmer spring breeze and brighter sky, just exactly what I checked on forecast a week before I flew to Istanbul. Since I had a complete travel package that time, it was easier for the pick up from the airport to my hotel. Everything was arranged smoothly. I had a pleasant conversation with the shuttle bus driver, Mr Umar, who speaks English fluently. Lucky enough, I was the only passenger inside the bus. It made me felt like a private guest how would I felt if our ride were an open roof Mercedes (stop dreaming!). Gazining the beautiful landscape of Kayseri inside a clean shuttle bus with a wide clear window glass was exhilarating. When I was almost arrived at my hotel and finally saw those cone-shaped rock formations and fairy chimneys with my naked eyes, I felt confident Cappadocia would leave something special in my heart.

I didn’t explore much on my first day in Cappadocia. Just mingling around from where I stayed, took pictures as many as I could, was also a bit anxious when I starved in the late afternoon but happy in the end cause I found the way to the downtown. I closed my first day in Cappadocia with happy tummy and tempted eyes (textures and colors in Turkey such a heaven for a creative person like me!).

Still have many pictures how stunning this place was. More to come!



Oh, should I mention here how I was so snuffy with my very good friend, Hakan, when he sent me a phenomenal -at least that’s what I call it with Saf- video of him eating croissants with Saf when I was starving that noon? No, don’t worry, it’s a humbug :) I do love Hakan and Saf anyway, how could I upset -with Saf’s annoying laughter yes!- kinda happy with a video I keep in my iPhone that makes me smile again and again.

I can’t wait to continue this post, how I enjoyed two days in Istanbul with Hakan and Saf started from Galata Tower!

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