That’s right, I missed my flight, for the 2nd time in my life.
Normally, this would be a devastating moment for most people, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It gave me an opportunity to explore Istanbul, which wasn’t in my plans. My destination was Cappadocia/Kapadokya, which we shall talk about later. I went to the airline office to see if I can find another flight and was hit with a whooping $276 price nikasema Hell No. My feet started walking around the airport where I end up wandering into this guy’s gift shop near the metro station. We strike up a conversation, I tell him I want to see the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia. He gave me directions and instructions on how to buy train tickets and wished me luck.
Ticket bought, I followed the crowds since I had no idea where to go or where one waits. No one around me spoke English. I should have been frustrated, but I wasn’t. The woman who sat next to me was super helpful, despite the language barrier and pointed me to my stop. I had to change trains at that stop called Zeytinburnu. The pronunciations of those Turkish words had me at my wits ends. I pretty much heard gugu gaga brerjzjhds the entire time. I bought the next ticket and on trying to punch it in, it tells me the ticket is invalid. Great! Invalid and it was bought less than 5min in. I had some words with the security guy who couldn’t understand why I’m trying to jump over the rails. He did eventually let me pass through after throwing in my mother-tongue and probably thought ‘this crazy woman’. Luckily, some guy at Zeytinburnu spoke conversational English and led me through. He literally held my hand, put me in the train and showed me my stop.
Sultanahmet Square. This place blew me away. Built in the 4th century, it the oldest part of Istanbul. It is in this square that you’ll find the famous Blue Mosque and the magnificent Hagia Sofia (or Ayasofia as the locals call it). There was a very long queue to Ayasofia and it was about to close so I went the opposite way. Sultan Ahmed Mosque, or Blue Mosque if you like, was architected in the 17th century and is lined with Iznik style ceramic tiles in green, white and blue with hand drawn secondary domes in blue which gives rise to it’s name – The Blue Mosque. This I learnt from one guy I thought was about to steal from me (blame the paranoia on Nairobi), turns out he was a really kind and gentle human. The other story is that long ago, the sailors crossing the Sea of Marmara named it Blue Mosque because the sea was reflecting blue colours on the building. You pick whichever interests you! I go with the tiles story because it’s more practical.
I didn’t get a chance to take enough or good pictures but here goes
It is still a prayer area so there’s people everywhere. You can see elements of blue even on the carpet.
I think I was lucky to even get this shot considering the number of people present.
I borrowed this picture from gettyimages just to show you the Blue Mosque in it’s full view.
My day 1 adventure does not end there. I took another train back to the Atarturk Airport to figure out my next step. I went back to gift shop guy just to talk to someone and he helped me find accommodation and basically figure everything out in terms of directions, logistics and next moves. This was about 9pm. I had to find bag from the airline and take two more trains to Sultanahmet. I accidentally got off on the wrong stop. It was cold. I don’t speak the language but this Turkish lady (bless her soul), who spoke zero English (no surprise there), changed her direction, carried my bag, took me back to the other end of the station, got me in the right train and basically made sure I got off on the right stage then she left. Day 1 of kindness! I was so grateful.
Finding my accommodation from there wasn’t difficult. It was 10.30pm and there were still people walking around, lots of people. I followed the directions given earlier and found my destination. Checked in, paid and took a shower, before heading out for dinner.
End of Day 1.