In the grand scheme of things, my trip with Valerie went really well. No one stole anything from us, I got a super cheap really cute haircut, we didn’t miss any planes, we both bought these really awesome harem pants from the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. But. Traveling is full of these moments that you have to embrace with an open, flexible mindset. So, without further ado, a list!1. Ending up in some sketchy alleys on our first night in Istanbul. We got into Istanbul in the afternoon, and made it to our hostel by the evening, and then we decided to go out to dinner. On the way home from our okay and sort of pricey meal (re: 12 lira/$6, we were in the tourist part of town) we managed to get hopelessly lost and end up in some sort of sketchy looking alleys. Neither of us had slept in the last 36 hours (Valerie because she was flying for 36 hours, and me because I had spent the night before sitting alone and freezing outside the Roma Termini-but that’s a different story), and we didn’t have a map. Eventually we flagged down a taxi, and told him to take us to the Mavi Guesthouse (a GREAT hostel). But he didn’t know where it was. He also didn’t know where the Blue Mosque or the Four Seasons was. So we ended up in a 15 lira ($7.50) taxi ride where the driver pulled over every so often to ask for directions. Of course we managed to find the tadi driver who didn’t know where he was going.
2. Pamukkale, or not. Going to Pamukkale wasn’t an original part of our travel plan. But when we stayed in Cappadocia, we met several people who told us we had to go there, and they made it sound really appealing. We had been planning on spending two days in Konya, but truthfully there’s not much there besides Rumi’s grave and the accompanying museum. So we decided to get up super early the next morning and take a bus to Denizli and then a shuttle to Pamukkale. Firstly, we barely caught the bus. The man we bought the bus tickets from told us (or so we thought… language barriers) to wait in front of the office at 7 a.m. So we were there… until 7:20… with no bus. So then we booked it to the otogar and barely made the bus. Which was supposed to take five or six hours to get to Denizli. But it took more like eight and a half. So we didn’t arrive until mid-to-late afternoon. But we figured we might as well take advantage of the little sunlight we had left, and take a shuttle to Pamukkale. The guidebook said they would take about 20-30 minutes. It was more like an hour. And on top of everything, we missed our stop. We ended up at the end of the road in quickly fading twilight. Valerie and I came really close to stealing a dolmus. But we didn’t, and we made it back to the otogar in Denizli and caught a night bus back to Istanbul.
|the one pic taken that day: “WHERE ARE WE?”|
3. Staying at the Marom Hotel. When Val and I were making plans for accommodations we ran into some problems about where to stay in Haifa. On the one hand, we could stay at a hostel down in the port, but that would mean a lot of time spent traveling back and forth between our hostel and the gardens. Or on the other hand, we could stay at a hotel up on the mountain, but that would be pretty pricey. We ended up at a sort of middle ground, picking a really cheap hotel that advertised itself as “close to the Baha’i gardens.” It wasn’t. I mean, yes, it’s closer than Florence, Italy or Fairbanks, Alaska. But we still had a lot of problems getting to and from there by bus, and sometimes that trip took us more than two hours… which leads us to…
4. That time it took us more than two hours to get from the ITC building to our hotel. The previous night, Valerie and I had made it from the Pilgrim Center to our hotel no problem on bus 23. Brimming with success, we were excited to try it again now that we knew what we were doing. So we got on bus 23, and waited patiently for it to get to Palmach Street, following its progress diligently on our map of Haifa. We were happily anticipating our arrival at the stop next to our hotel, when suddenly our bus made an unexpected turn and we ended up traveling through this mysterious tunnel for several minutes! We ended up at a bus depot in the port, and when we tried to ask the bus driver where we were and what had happened he opened the door and shooed us off impatiently telling us he only spoke Hebrew without even glancing at our map. We ended up waiting for a bus back up the mountain for about half and hour, and when we finally got off that bus it was still a twenty minute walk to where we were staying. We had left the World Centre property a little after nine, and didn’t make it back to our hotel room until a little before midnight.
These were the biggest problems we encountered on our trip. Although, we spent a lot of our time lost. No so much because either of us is horrifically bad at directions, but because we were too impatient to use a map. And there was the portion of our trip where Valerie only had one pair of socks. Or the number of times we ended up stranded in pouring rain. Overall though, I think we managed alright.