And The Rest Was Such A Long-time Friendship

 

..was one of the best day I had in Turkey.


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One of the lesson I learned from my trip to Tokyo and Kyoto last year was simple: give yourself time to sit down at one corner, feel the ambiance and surrounding, breathe easy, and forget about destination. As mentioned that I had no itinerary when I was in Turkey, it gave me more spaces and options how I could enjoy my day. On my first day in hostel, I took an hour to do a small research and decided where was the best place to visit the day after.

Day two was when I headed to Sultanahmed area. I sat on the bench and enjoyed the view of the park in front of Hagia Sofia before strolling around Sirkeci, Grand Bazaar, and an afternoon treat at Hafidz Mustafa. I headed back to Hagia Sofia (though I didn’t enter cause I read the best time to visit is 9am) but I entered to one of the most beautiful sacred place nearby, instead.

There, I found some magical moments. The echo of call prayer from the mosque was magical. The architecture of the mosque was magical. And the thing I loved the most that day was an accidental friendship I found inside the mosque. I honestly love unpredictable moment just jumped up like that while I traveled. Magnifique, as French says.



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“If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.”


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I’m pretty sure you guys know the sentence above is one of the basic rules in life. If you do not ask for something, you’ll always have no as an answer. That exactly what I had in mind when I was inside Sultan Ahmed mosque.

Right after Asr prayer, I was still admiring the beauty of the mosque with a camera in my hand, typical tourist. Taking some pictures while my mind thought about every details on those fascinating domes. Five minutes after, I dropped my camera and what I wanted to do was recording the moment in my brain till there was a whisper knocked my mind, “take one with yourself in the picture.” 

If you ask me, I’m more like BTS person when I’m traveling. I do prefer to photograph the objects/people than seeing myself in the picture. But I said like, “come on, you are in Turkey, just do what you want to do. Having one with yourself in isn’t a bad idea, nah? even just one.”  I stood from the floor after I saw a gentleman stood too. The whisper was sounded louder than before,“if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.”

I had a fickle heart to ask to someone who I saw was busy taking picture. I bet you will think the same like what I thought then. If you are a solo traveler, you’ll prefer to ask somebody who looks like traveling alone. When I saw Safoine stood with his smart phone, I asked him if he could help me with my camera. The first time I gave my camera, he handed over to a gentleman that was standing in front of us, which I later knew his name is Hakan. Saf said Hakan could take photograph better. I offered them to have some photos from my camera after Hakan took myself twice. After that moment, we introduced ourselves. I never felt such a welcome acquaintance like what I had with Hakan and Saf before. It was warm, gracious, and genuine.

We left the mosque together and headed to somewhere near Galata bridge for sunset, with interesting conversations in between. Enjoying the late afternoon just before the golden hour will always be one of my happiness. And enjoying it with a view of Bosphorus strait, cool spring breeze, shrieking seagulls, and two new pleasant friends like Hakan and Safoine, could be one the best happiness I won’t forget on my second day in Istanbul. Sadly, I couldn’t show you our picture we took together here as requested by Hakan. That’s not a big deal right? Saf’s smile you can see below’s such a prove how bright the day we had then.



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Thank you to the internet nowadays for making everything easier. I connected to Hakan after we exchanged our WhatsApp numbers before he and Saf went back to their hotel. We met again for a dinner at Mom’s Corner Istanbul as suggested by Hakan (he’s Turkish by blood and a real foodie anyway, so we just need to follow him for the best places in Istanbul). A cozy beautiful evening at a restaurant with strong elements, authentic Turkish food, warm conversation with InstaStories plus Snapchats and our new friendship.

We were walking to İstiklal Avenue after dinner (gosh, it was such an exercise walking on uphill road in the evening!), passed Galata Tower, took scopes of ice cream and ended by chilling at Taksim Square.

I want to share some fun facts on my second day :)

  • I had 4 different interviews kind-of from some pupils around Hagia Sofia. They were having an English assignment and had to find somebody who could be asked some questions in English and recorded. The last one was when they stopped me, Hakan and Saf with the same purpose. Kinda funny yet interesting
  • I have to admit that most time I could be so garish when I meet someone new. When Hakan and Saf said they landed in the morning on the same day we met, flew from Paris, and they speak French, I said “I hate you guys”. Excusez-moi, call me garish and I don’t care
  • It was so fun I could record our dinner scene and posted on my Instagram Stories that day, I felt so cool you know :D (this is beyond garish I know)
  • We took an iPhone selfie (sadly I couldn’t show it here, as requested by WHY Hakan WHY) that was so much better than the Bangladesh man took from my camera. I did wish he could take the photo perfectly but a picture of myself with closed eyes was like “WHYYY?”
  • Hakan is so much better taking selfie photo rather than me. Most time I always shake holding an iPhone for a selfie
  • I just knew that croissant means crescent moon in English. I heard Hakan said “our meeting point is where that croissant is”, when he pointed the moon shape on one Turkish flag. I thought Hakan was jested for a real “croissant” after I told him and Saf that I’m a croissant lover
  • I met with Ali Murad, originally from Cyprus that works and lives in Qatar when I was waiting for Hakan & Saf before our dinner. He was on a business trip in Istanbul and asked me if I could join him to the club in Taksim. I told him I had an appointment with Hakan and Saf, he said “you can ask them to join later” ((oops! maybe next time Ali! :P three of us do not drink!). We became friends after exchanged our WhatsApp numbers. The last time I spoke with him on the phone when he heard that I lost my wallet in Istanbul

 

Next post is when I thought was one of the most memorable day I had with still, Hakan and Saf.

 

That Spring Breeze, In Istanbul

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“Perhaps, traveling with no itinerary is the best travel style”


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To be honest, I’m not that good doing a travel research. Though I do love reading travel stories from other travelers or bloggers, but I’m not that thorough concerning a destination. I always try to take notes for some key informations such as how to get there, do and don’t till exchange rates. My trip to Turkey wasn’t like my trip to Japan last year when most of my needs had been sorted before I even flew. This one was more like “let’s find the way when you are there”. Also, I had no itinerary except in Cappadocia for the balloon ride. So, basically my recent trip was like “I’m ready for any surprises”.

Arrived on Friday morning at Atatürk Airport, I headed straight to Taksim. Metro in Istanbul isn’t as complicated as Tokyo, and that’s a good news. Flying to Turkey with zero expectation reminded me of something:

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“Though I wasn’t full of the joys of spring even when I landed, but stood inside the train and found myself in somewhere I haven’t been to, was surreal”


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I was still wondering what Turkey has that could surprise me when I was standing inside the train. Yet I felt a feeling I’d missed that sparkled immediately. That feeling when you were inside the train and you could see difference faces and styles you’ve never seen before, and probably it was my wanderlust.

I did arrive around 11am at my hostel called #bunk, received a warm welcome and informative tips from Olga, a Russian lady that works in the front desk. She asked me, “your first time in Istanbul?”, “yep, zero expectation. Let’s see what will I experience here” I replied. “You’ll love it, Azis”, Olga convinced me with a sweet smile on her face.

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I didn’t start sightseeing on my very first day in Istanbul, I only looked the nearest mosque for Friday prayer, took lunch with my first Turkish dishes (that always look tantalising from the glass window), went back to hostel for napping, and relaxing in Taksim Square in the evening (when I realised evening in spring was so cold).

I went places on my second day. I started my mood right. I setted a bright smile on my face, listened to fav songs from my iPhone, and walked along to Taksim station. Before I went down to the station, I stopped my steps in front of Monumento a la República. I could vividly remember what I did. I stared to the sky, it was so clear and blue. I breathed easy and let the spring breeze and bright sunshine that morning kissed my face. I said to myself “I think I love spring”.

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“Day two could be one of the most beautiful day on my trip”


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First, I really enjoyed my morning in the tram heading to Sultanahmed district. Sitting in front of a Turkish lady that speaks English very well who kind enough giving me some travel trips while accompanying a friend from States. I will always love a simply moment like that, sitting by the window in a sunny yet cool morning, seeing random faces, gazening out to the unusual morning scene, and heading to somewhere new.

Second, giving myself “me-time” by sitting at Hafiz Mustafa in the afternoon after strolling around Sultanahmed district. There was nothing better by sitting by the window upstairs with a slice of pretty cake and a cup of hot Turkish tea while spring breeze was still cool.

And the last thing that made my second day in Istanbul beautiful was an accidental friendship with a very friendly and welcome des amis français in the Blue Mosque. Perhaps that could be the real meaning of the joys of spring for me.

Will share how it happened on the next post.

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