STATS – Day: 29 | Distance: 8466.8 miles | Location: Istanbul, Turkey | Money Spent To Date – Transportation: $656.98 (includes airfare) | Food: $106.88| Stay: $116.75 | Play: $84.66
Please forgive any mistakes in this blog. Unfortunately my laptop was stolen (along with luggage from another resident). I’ll be completing the blogs using my phone until I can get a replacement, which might not be until I am back in the U.S.
Stolen items occur from time to time. An unsavory action by one human should not negatively reflect on the masses. The hostel where I’m staying is very secure and I have never had issues in the past. Pappy and Seraj did a thorough investigation and searched each room. I am so thankful for them. They took extra time to cheer me up and send positive vibes my way.
Theft can happen anywhere. Even at my former employer, there have been thefts and employees had security cards to gain entrance to each floor.
There are always risks in life.
Although I miss my laptop and the work I had stored on it these past few months, it could have been much worse. I am happy, healthy and gaining new experiences daily!
Since I’m staying in Istanbul for a while I consider myself a newcomer (new resident) rather than a tourist. And in doing so, I need to learn the rules of the city.
Being new in any place can be scary, confusing and frustrating. Not understanding the language and nuances of the culture adds extra stress. I remember the first time I moved to the Washington D.C. metro area (DC/VA/MD) and I didn’t know anyone. I was very lonely and desperately wanted someone to step off the bus, knock on my door, or walk right up to me and say “hello, I’m your new friend”.
It never happened, no matter how much I wished.
Slowly – as I found my grocery store, my bank, my job and navigated the city, my stress lighten and I started meeting people who became great friends.
So now I’m in Istanbul and am faced with many of the same challenges. I do have friends here and they have been extremely helpful, but they also have jobs and lives of their own, so I am by myself a majority of the time.
Here are a few of the major things I’ve learned so far:
City buses can and will stop anywhere to drop people off and pick people up. Not only at bus stops. They will also drive past a scheduled bus stop if no one is waving them down or asking to get off.
This creates a big confusing problem for the newcomer. I’ve had to do a little research in advance to know exactly where I’m going and be vigilant in reading all bus stop signs along the way.
Be prepared to make a few wrong turns.
Most ATMs (automatic teller machines) in busy areas of Istanbul are completely out of cash by Sunday, so make sure you budget your money accordingly. I tried about 10 ATMs before I was able to get money and had traveled outside of the main city area on my last 10 lira (Turkish dollar).
Yes, I was freaking out.
Afterwards I told a friend and they laughed and said, “oh yes, machines are always out by Sunday”.
I’ve learned to be a savvy shopper. The cost of food, clothing and other goods are not the same price everywhere. Look around and compare. I found a grocery store with in the same walking distance that had prices up to 50% less with the same selection and quality.
After being burned a few times with what I call “foreigners tax” (the price goes up when you’re not a local), I’ve learned to ask for prices on things that are not marked. I try saying in Turkish and then English “Ne kadar?/how much?”, or miming using hand signal for money (outstretched palm up). Don’t be afraid to walk away. I’m horrible at negotiating prices, so if it is too high, I just leave it.
Make your money count!
There are beautiful places to be discovered while riding the bus, tram, ferry, metro and other transportation options available in Istanbul.
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