As mentioned in the previous post, me and couple of my classmates got a scholarship this year to fulfill our travel dream and visit International Design Exhibition in China : Design Shanghai 2014.
Visiting Istanbul was not part of our original plan, however after an email from Turkish airlines informing us that our connecting flight from Istanbul to Shanghai was cancelled for that day, we decided to take it as an opportunity! So from original 4 hours stopover, we moved to 24 hours lay over in Istanbul as the first stop in our Shanghai adventure.
And I am so glad we did as it was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.
We arrived late at night with the evening flight from Gothenburg to Istanbul, picked our luggage and took a taxi to our apartment in the new part of Istanbul. Bearing in mind these were the first hours of our trip, we were already lost as the taxi driver kept driving around in circles around little dodgy streets of Istanbul, unable to find our place to stay. I guess we were all too excited about the trip to let it affect our mood.
By the time we actually got to the apartment, it was pretty late so we just quickly changed our plane outfits and went out to ‘do something Turkish’. For some recommendation, we hit the main street and spoke to some locals who have understandable level of English. As it was almost midnight, he recommended us to visit the best shisha place in Turkey, open 24/7.
The place was called Alibaba and was as much Turkish as you can get: Turkish motives and designs everywhere, plates of amazing sweet food on every table, never ending refills of turkish tea and coffee and local Istanbulians smoking massive shishas and just enjoying life not minding the time. And as the motto of our trip was to live like a local, we ordered one as well and joined them.
As we only had one day for Istanbul, we planned to visit the old part of Istanbul: Ayasofya, historical peninsula, former water reservoir where the famous James Bond scene was filmed and of course the Grand Bazaar to please our little aesthetic design souls.
To warm up, we opted for some roasted chestnuts, the best kebab ever and some more turkish coffee on the sea side as the sun sets down. We got talking with some locals working in the restaurant and at the end spent almost three hours there with a bunch of them teaching us how to play backgammon and count in Turkish…till this day, it is one of the funniest moments of my life.
Filled with amazing memories and tired from the full day of walking, we went back to our apartments to pick up our luggage, say thank you to our host and head back to the airport. Direction: Shanghai International airport. I guess I don’t even have to mention how excited we were.
To be continued very soon:)