pOur airplane was slowly turning to the left, leaning towards the inside of the circle it flew. I finally got a glimpse of where I would be for the next few days. I looked through my little window above my small seat andhad the most amazing view over this enormous huge city. I at first believed that what i saw would only be outside of the city center. But as we approached Istanbul’s airport I more and more realized that this was it. This was the city. The city I have been excited for over a year to finally cross off my bucket list. We finally made it after 3 1/2 hours flying and 2 hours airport time to one of the most outrageous and vibrant cities existing.
Right after landing our host families welcomed us with big smiles and hugs. I felt a big relieve after talking for a moment with my host sister (that I randomly picked after only chatting for a few minutes over whatsapp) as she seemed to be very nice and on my wave. We even had the same bag and shoes and later we found out that both of us watch the same you tubers (If that’s not a sign then I don’t know what is 😉 ) We drove to the asian side where I would live for the next week and as we got stuck in the traffic I got the chance to stare at this Utterly beautiful and breathtaking sunset that I luckily captured with my new camera.
The Host Family:
I want to thank my Host Sister for being such a good guide and friend. I am thankful that I was able to sleep in your sister’s old bedroom and to be welcomed so friendly in your home.
I also thank her parents especially her mother a lot as she welcomed me in her world and let me feel as comfortable as if it was my home. She made my goodbye a hard one even tough it was a short time. You all have a place in my heart and I will never forget how amazing you have made my stay.
After the first evening I already felt like at home and I got to share some quality time with my host family.
We soon found out that we are both date obsessed and they were all surprised how much fruit and veggies I would eat in a day. They were very kind and bought some fruit for me to take with me while I was away during the day. At night there would always be a delicious dinner prepared with lots of different dishes to choose and try from. My host father brought some delicious Jujubes home that I was so keen on trying for a long long time that I nearly exploded out of excitement when I saw them. He also was also interested in new fruits so on our last day he brought home this fruit called Kudret nari which apparently is in season right now.
I looked so stunning. It was shaped like an opening flower with red smily capsules inside. We ate the bitter arils around the seeds (I later found out that those were toxic and inedible!!! Only the slightly harder outside should have been eaten cooked!!! OOPS… )
A typical Day in Istanbul:
I would get up at 5:45 to get ready for the day, breakfast, make some tea and oak my bag. At 6:30 a mini school bus picked us up infront of our apartment building to then drive us to school which took as about and hour if the traffic wasn’t that bad.
We there met with all the other students from our class. From the st. Georgs-Kolleg we would go to the subway station and drive somewhere more exciting. Like the Blue Mosque, the Dolmabahçe-Palaste, Cisterna-Basilica, the ferry stop from where we would do a Bosphorus tour or other touristic places.
Afterwards our teachers would set us free for the rest of the day. We always had time on our hands in the afternoons to decide ourselves what activities we would like to do with our host sisters. We often went to Taksim with the starbucks. In this popular Street you can find some of Istanbul’s newest stores, Bars and shops. We had a lot of fun in some Bowling areas, chilled out in some cool terrace cafes and discovered a pop up museum where we had a lot of fun checking out their vernissage (a little too much fun. as i played on a self-made piano made out of recycled furniture i accidentally broke it as a piece fell off. Everything was alright in the end…)
We then often went to another place such as a cafe or mall where my host sister would usually hang out with her best friend (which coincidentally happened to be my best friend’s host sister.) So it didn’t bother me too much that it was already really late considering that we had to get up really early. On most Days we got home at about 9 or 10 p.m., ate the Dinner that her mother had prepared for us, showered and got straight to Bed.
The next Days would be a repetitive yet modified version of the Day I just gave as an example.
Making Friends through the Internet and Food
Who would have known that it are the simple things in Life that tie friendships together. On my first Day I already snatched a place in my host-mothers heart as we shared the same obsession over Dates and Dried Fruits. Not only did we found each other likable due to our humble and down-to-earth mindset but she was also interested in my culture and Vegan Cooking. On the second evening my host sister and I found out that we both loved to watch the same Youtubers. So we bundled us up in our cozy pajamas, got some fruits and dried snacks and watched some youtube videos as the darkness of the night started swallow the bright city lights.
If you ever want meet someone new, don’t be afraid to make the first step. Say Hi, be kind and most importantly PATIENT as Friendships need their time to grow and evolve. Start chatting about everyday stuff. If you have Hobbies share them with them. Later on you might even have the same opinion or thoughts on some more serious topics. 🙂
How to Bargain at the Grand bazar
Before we went out to conquer the great adventure of the Bazar I genned up on some articles about the Grand Bazar. The following Day I was ready to get some good Deals. Armed with a whole lot of knowledge, my DSLR, friends, comfy clothes and enough money to buy a whole Date shop (HAHAHA just kidding. But seriously, don’t forget your money. You’ll find yourself in Paradise if you have a weakness for Dried Fruits, Coffee, Lanterns… etc.) At first sight it was a disappointment. Where were all the colorful and bright spice stalls, the Salesman who would loudly tell you how exquisite their products. I was hastily looking around only spying lantern, glass and a whole lot of jewelry shops. I then later found out that the Spice Bazar would be at the
End Beginning of the Street as our teachers brought us to the other side. We walked a little more into the Bazar and got into the spirit. As we approached the first shop I could feel my heart racing down my chest. I was really determined to help my friends get the best Deals and products for the cheapest possible price. I’ve read a lot about how to “play the Game” and really it DID work. We scored some scarfs for 25% from the original price.
Now here’s what I’ve learned and did to get the best Deals:
- Look around a shop as if you wouldn’t be interested at all. Don’t show any emotions of joy or interest when you pass the item you want. Once the salesman has noticed you, he will walk up to you and make the first move. He will most likely ask you how you are and where you are from. Be nice and kind but still in a cool and relaxed way. Ask him what an item costs pointing at a random object or the item you want. Now this is when the Game starts.
- He will ask: What would you pay for it? NEVER EVER answer that question!!!
ASK him BACK: How much do you want for it?
The thing is, once you name your price the Deal is set and done. GAMEOVER! Nice try but you are done here.
- The salesman will now name a ridiculous amount of money that is completely unreasonable and over priced.
- say that this is too much. NO! LAUGH!! and say that it is way too much and that you could easily find a better one for an even cheaper price . Walk away and let Time do the rest.
Important tip : Walk CONFIDENTLY away. also show confidence when countering his offer.
- Now wait and let the magic happen. If you haven’t turned around taking a blink at that beautiful Bowl and intend to walk into the shop right in front of the other one chances are big that he now will make you a new offer.
- You turn around look at/touch the item you want and say No again. But this time with a smile. You tell him a price that is even way too cheap for you as a customer.
- Now the actual Game BEGINS as you start to bargain for the best price until you both meet somewhere in the middle.
- you can pracice this strategy in some random shops where you don’t even want to buy anything. Sometimes you get the best Deals outta there as your interest Level equals – 18. Most importantly Have FUN as you shop in the bazar and enjoy the atmosphere and talking to completely strangers as you get to know some pretty impressive and funny personalities.
I scored So Many delicious Dates, Mulberries, the best smelling (and tasting) Turkish coffee, two utterly beautiful but total unnecessary glass Flacons which I still haven’t filled with scented Candle Oil… (at least they look pretty and fit with my room Deco), more Dates, spices such as: ginger, saffron, sumac, Zatar, paprika and many more, the most delicious and soft dried Apricots I’ve ever eaten and more Dates where gone very soon.
This Journey was the most exciting experience I have ever had. I am so glad that my class and I got to visit this beautiful country and although we have had some pretty deep downs there also were so many good things and those troubled moments only brought us closer together as a team. As the school semester kicked in and the long days went on our mood still kept rising as we keep up the jokes and humor we gained from this trip. And this, this are the things that nobody can take you. As problematic or sh*t some situates might be, there will always be some light at the end of the tunnel and even if it is a small one far away, you will get and you will be welcomed.
with that I want to say Thank you to everyone who was involved in this.
Lots of love the Blueeyedkitchencat aka Liz :*