STATS – Day: 19 | Distance: 8466.8 miles | Location: Istanbul, Turkey | Money Spent To Date – Transportation: $645.32 (includes airfare) | Food: $73.72| Stay: $87.75 | Play: $67.00
It’s my 5th day in Istanbul, staying at a hostel called “Planet Paprika”. I’m doing a happy dance because today I get my own room! Well, kind of my own room. I’m in a dorm room but no one else has reserved a bed in it, so for now, it’s all mine. Before this I was in a dorm room with all men, and it was crowded and awkward. Plus I’m an introvert and I wasn’t getting any solitary time. Yes, it is a hostel, but typically there is time when no one is in the room – during the afternoon or late at night. Now I’m on the 3rd floor all to myself – Heaven!!!
It is not heaven for Planet Paprika though, turbulence in Turkey the last couple years has also created a problem with tourism and the rooms stay empty. Even in hard times Pappy agreed to let me work in exchange for my lodging to help with my expenses. I think we’ll end up splitting the bill since there isn’t enough work for me to feel good about the exchange.
It is still pretty cold here at night (41°F/ 5°C) and heat is a luxury (along with air conditioning during the summer). I sleep with all my clothes on and have been squirreling blankets whenever I can find them. I am up to 4 blankets now. Believe me I have a serious conversation with myself before getting up to pee during the night. There has to be a desperate “NEED”.
I check the weather predictions daily!
“Pappy” is my nickname for Serhat Bligiç (aka Mr. Paprika) who started this hostel in 2010 after hosting travelers in his home for several years. The hostel’s theme song is Planet Paprika from Shantel, as it embodies the kind of place he wanted to create. A wonderful planet where there is no war, no borders, where everyone is loved, appreciated, happy and enjoying life. “No Passport Control” he says with a smile as you arrive. I have been a citizen of Planet Paprika from the beginning. I have visited Istanbul 5 times, however the last two times were only 19-hour layovers simply to see a smile, have a big hug, grab a beer and enjoy some time with everyone.
Happiness comes from within. It helps to have others filled with happiness around you.
Keeping a hostel going takes a lot of work, and it has all taken its toll. Pappy has decided to close Planet Paprika at the end of this year. “I want to relax and do nothing. It too hard to keep going always, I never close. Time to enjoy only life.”
Pappy says he will travel, visit his friends and family, and get lost. He tells me he will come find me and we can get lost together. I often get lost when I travel, sometimes even on purpose; and when I’m lost I have experiences I would have missed if I stayed on a particular course. Getting lost is good.
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