Belated 2014 Post #2

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İstanbul, Türkiye – August 31, 2014

 

First of all: I recommend Turkish Airlines. Friendly staff (even when some don’t speak good english), comfy seats, clean, decent food and good movies and entertainment (I learned the numbers, days of the week, months and some phrases in turkish with an app, though by now I only remember “Teşekkür ederim”, which means “Thank you”.

By the time I arrived to Istanbul I already felt confident. I left my suitcase in the baggage custody services, changed money from USD to TL (though it would’ve been better to just withdraw money from an ATM), and walked to the airport’s metro station. I got to the station where you change and use the tram if you’re heading to the Hagia Sophia and pretty sure of what I was doing, I got on a wagon. Just after that, a man asks me “Does this go to the Sultanahmet station?” and I replied “I think so”, but luckily a man who heard our conversation told us it was the other way.

I got off the wagon, walked as fast as I could to the Hagia Sophia Museum (Ayasofya Müzesi) but I was 15 minutes late. I tried to enter the Museum by the exit and asked if by any chance I could get in (there was still an hour left until it close) and the security guard answered “Only if you give me a million dollars”. Since I had no million dollars, I switched to plan B and walked to the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii) and was also late (I think stopping to take photos had something to do with this). The good thing is I could still wander around the exterior of the mosque.

 

 

After admiring the exterior of the mosque, and having no plan C, I started walking in no direction. I got to the port of the city, passed by a seafood market and got to a not so pretty part of Istanbul. I tried asking in english how to return to the city centre but had no luck. After more walking and eating, I asked in a hotel and the clerk answered “No english” but he immediately called another man who helped me out. I had dinner and then returned to the airport (I didn’t want to go to a bar carrying my backpack with the most important stuff). I tried to sleep but failed, so I sat down to have a chai tea (which took me around 10 minutes to order because no waiter could tell me what turkish tea meant).

 

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Some other activities before finally getting to sleep on the plane: walking in circles, trying to understand something from the packaging of the stuff sold in a store, trying to sleep on a bench, more walking in circles (but now with some music), charging my phone in a mobile phone accessories store, telling people I didn’t work at that store, reading, chatting with an argelian who was studying in London (I think he only wanted the Wi-Fi password from me), chatting with a turkish man who worked at a travel agency and who said he was spending his next vacations in Mexico, dancing with my suitcase, passing through security, having breakfast and a little bit more of walking around.

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Belated 2014 Post #1

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Houston, TX – Late August 2014

Crossed the border Mexico-USA at Laredo. The bus (Senda) stopped for the travel permit process. Since my seat was at the back of the bus, next to the WC, the substitute driver’s cabin and next to a man carrying his annoying son (lucky me), I was the last one to get off.

When it was my turn to get the permit, I walked towards the desk and the officer asked: “Musician?” to which I replied laughing “Sometimes”. After showing him my flight reservation and telling him I’m going on exchange to Spain he tells me that he’s also traveling with Turkish Airlines, just a week later. I proceeded to pay and get back on the bus.

I arrived to Houston after 12 hours (super shitty trip, dirty and noisy bus, and A LOT of stops).  There, Angie (my cousin Javier’s wife) picked me up and while in the city I got to see my cousin, his children, my uncles and also to eat at places I hadn’t tried (Chipotle Mexican Grill, Frank’s Pizza at Downtown Houston, Buffalo Wild Wings and Cracker Barrel).

 

The moment to head to the airport had come.  I have to admit I was really nervous. I got less nervous while chatting with my cousin on the way to the airport but that was useless because when I found myself alone in the line to make the check-in (flight to Istanbul, 30/08/2014) it got worst. I was even thinking: “What am I doing?”, reason why after passing through security I went to a bar and had a beer (Lalo, Laurence: my first Blue Moon!)

 

P.S. Thanks for everything, Javier and Angie!