Where am I?

Created this blog to document my travels, experiences & thoughts thru Central & South America but hell plan to blog my travels to where ever. Goofy harmless Free Spirit hoping to spend most of my time with locals & enjoy the world! So hang on as I travel, drink cervezas, raise a little hell, maybe piss off a few people & hopefully not give Canadians a bad reputation! Of course don't do these things on purpose but while having a good time well "Shit Happens"!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

So on another trip originally to visit UAE & Abu Dhabi! Then scored a fairly cheap ticket to Istanbul so will use it as a base 2 go north & south! Oct 2012

I started thinking about going on this trip in August! Then I came across a ticket from Vancouver to Istanbul for $1100 for 3 months which I thought was a sweet price! After that I got greedy in my travel plans (as usual) & thought wtf if I pay that much for a tkt I may as well check out a few other countries close by that missed in 2010! So now about all that is guaranteed on this trip is that I’ll be leaving Vancouver on Oct 15 and return on Jan 15!!
Then after I decided on a ticket well still wanted to go on a trip promised myself I'd do to Toronto & Montreal! So that happened from Sept 15 to Oct 4 which was a day after my crazy trip to Tofino a cool chill place on Vancouver Island with my good fun close friend MJ (a real sweetheart)!

So anyway back to my current trip to the other side of the world! So tho been to Istanbul a couple of times! I'll be checking out the remaining Eastern European countries that missed last year! If u check this map u will see the countries that are east of Germany & Austria! Cuz really love the people from Eastern Europe and the countries are more interesting to me than Western Europe!!http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/europe_map.htm

My flight took me to Amsterdam where I had a 8 hrs stopover after an all night flight from Vancouver Canada! Well being from Vancouver where BC Bud is King so normally I’d be off the plane running to hit the coffee shops in Amsterdam! But I used my better judgement (yeah I still have some) & decided to hang out at the airport to catch up on my sleep seeing as I just got off a night flight! I also knew from a previous trip to Amsterdam that if I went to a coffee shop well have u heard the expression “like a kid in a candy store”?

Mom would have been proud of me! Cuz have a 8 hr stopover in Amsterdam on the way to Istanbul & not going into the city to a coffee shop!!! Cuz know Shit Happens & if I go may forget to come back for my flight! lol Also have a night layover on the way back thru here in 3 months! So will check out the coffee shops again then as been to them last year so know what happens cuz like a kid in a candy shop!! Plus need some sleep after an all night flight & tonight getting into Istanbul at midnight so will be sleeping at the airport again! Then who knows maybe couch surfing lol but it’s all good!!


Well then maybe u’ve heard the expression “pigging out” then change the word “food” for “weed” in the following definition http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=pig%20out
Anyway u get the idea that I'd over indulge & probably end up missing my flight! Duh "No shit Sherlock!! I also knew that on my return flight back from Istanbul that I had an overnight stop in Amsterdam! Then I could maybe indulge to make up for missing out for missing on this flight!
So my flight made it to Istanbul at 1230 am so by the time I got my bag it was about 2 am or so! Also as a Canadian I was dinged $60USD for a 3 month multi entry visa! That sucked but what could I do? Tell them to screw off and get back on the plane?

But I knew before I left that I’d be sleeping at the Araturk Airport in Istanbul the first night! On the second night thought that I’d stay at this hostel that my friend Jasmina works in Istanbul! Jasmina is a Serbian friend, who lives in Istanbul & is a friend of a good Serbian friend of mine in Vancouver! Jasmina and I had been communicating on FB since she lived in Istanbul & I wanted to meet her!

(A bit of useless information is Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey with 8,8 million inhabitants, situated on both sides of the Bosporus, making Istanbul a city of two continents, Europe and Asia.There are 3 major parts of Istanbul. On the European side lies Stamboul and Beyoglu, divided by the Golden Horn a drowned valley about 7 km long. On the Asian side lies Üsküdar (ancient Chrysopolis) and Kadiköy (ancient Chalcedon). Larger Istanbul is 45 km wide and 35 long from south to north. The city continues all along the strait of Bosporus, which connects the Black Sea to Sea of Marmara and the Mediterranean further south.)
So anyway Jasmina worked in a hostel on the Asian side of Istanbul so thought I'd stay there! But a couple days before I was to leave she told me that unfortunately her hostel was fully booked for the night I wanted to stay! So decided to book a bed in the Harmony Hostel on the European side where most of the tourists hang out! I had stayed at the Harmony Hostel when I was in Istanbul last year as someone recommended it to me!

So the first night I surveyed the Araturk airport for a comfy place to crash! But first I had to grab something to eat cuz they didn't feed us on the plane from Amsterdam! So I settled on a Chicken joint to eat & then I noticed that the Burger King next to it had nice padded bench seats! So I decided to sleep on one of those benches! But before I went to sleep I heard a couple of chicks talking with a Canadian accent near me! So I found out that they were a couple of nurses who worked at VGA hospital in Vancouver & lived close to where I live! They had been on vacation in Turkey for a couple weeks & had a late flight out on the same KLM flight that I came on! Anyway I had a so so sleep at Burger King!

The next day I paid 2 Lira (60 cents Canadian) for a Metro ride to the Tram line to the downtown area of Istanbul! Then when I got to end of the Metro line I was suppose to go to the Tram line! But was discombobulated and couldn’t figure out where the Tram line was located! So had to ask this one guy who asked around & walked me to the tram line! I paid another 2 Lira to get on the tram! Unfortunately it was morning rush hour! So I had to wait for 4 trams to come by so I could get on! Well next time I plan to get off the Metro earlier & catch the tram so it wouldn’t be so busy & I could get on! I was amazed that I could still figure out how to find the hostel from memory in Istanbul!

I was really disappointed in the Harmony hostel on this trip! I guess last year it was spring & the weather was nicer! I got to the hostel in time to have the free breakfast! The kitchen is on the roof of the building but shit I noticed that one of the walls was missing so it was like friggin cold with the wind blowing thru! Well got a dorm room with 4 other guys so I laid down and had a short nap in the afternoon! I was kind of disappointed cuz last year thought the hostel was cool! But in Oct it was kind of windy & there was a hole in the window & one of the windows didn’t close as it was broken! So had to get the guy working at the hostel to tape up the window cuz it seemed they were going to replace the broken glass!
When I got up I decided to try and call Jasmina to say hi! So I got the guy working at the hostel to call her and I spoke to her! She asked me if I wanted to come over to her place as she lived on the Asian side of the Bosphorous River! I had to walk down to the ferry dock and catch the ferry to the Asian side. Well that seemed easy as got the right ferry and made it across OK! But when I got to the other side Jasmina told me to take a cab to her place as it should only cost about 15 liras / $7 CAD! But the crazy driver didn’t know where he as going and got lost & kept drving around asking people! When we finally got to Jasmina’s place the meter was up to 25 lira which Jasmina said was a scam!! But hey hell had no idea where we were so at least we finally found the place! Jasmina lived in a nice little place that was quite modern!

We sat around and had some tea and she apologized for not having any weed to smoke! Well surprise surprise I had brought a bit of my own weed! So we had a smoke and Jasmina got wasted & guess I did too! Then she told me that her husband played drums in a jazz band and they were playing at this club in the shopping side of Istanbul! The main part of Istanbul is separated by the Bosphorous river and one of it’s tributaries in to the Touristy side with sights like the Blue Mosque. The shopping side with the bar & club scene around Tazim Square! Then there was the Asian side which was more chill & a cooler place to live! Not to mention it was cheaper!

Jasmina said we c take a mini bus to the Jazz Club in Tazim Square which is where the night life seem to happen! They didn’t start playing until 11 pm and lasted a couple hours! Then they could give me a ride back and wasn’t very far out of the way!

So we took one bus to Tazim Square to the Jazz Club! If u imagined a Jazz Club should be in a little dark bar place in an older building! Well u were correct as the Club was up stairs in a little place! The group was awesome as love Jazz music cuz it’s all so creative! The dude playing the lead guitar wrote the music but just for his bit on the guitar! The drummer (Jasmina’s husband), the saxophone and bass player all added creative parts of their with their instruments!!!!! Yeah so had a couple beers & enjoyed the music for a couple of hours! Then Jasmina’s Darin sp?? gave me a ride back to my cold dank dingy hostel on the European side!

The next couple days in Istanbul I spent trying to book a cheap flight to Riga, Latvia! Cuz wanted to visit a friend who lives in Riga that met while she was on a year work visa in Vancouver Canada!! Actually I was excited about going there cuz she invited me to stay at her parent’s house! Hell when I travel I like to do it on the cheap & nothing beats couch surfing especially in a local’s home!!!! So thought hey maybe I should take a small gift cuz tho I’m tight when it comes to myself! Well I do appreciate it when someone does some thing for me so like to repay them in some small way!!

So took a quick trip to the Grand Bazaar to check out something to get them something ! Then thought they will probably think “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts!!!” So I thought all piss on it as I’d wait to see how hospitable they were first before spending any $$ - now u can see that I’m quite cheap with my coin! Lol
Anyway as I was saying I thought the Harmony Hostel kind of sucks now! Shit the only common area to sit, talk, eat our free breakfast, read, use ur computer or the hostel’s computer was on the top floor! I thought it was a cool place when I was there last year in the spring! But shit in the fall when it was getting chilly well it was Cool as in cold! The room’s 4th wall seemed to have disappeared so it was now a cold windy room with 1 wall missing! But as the guy told me it could be worse cuz it could have been the wall facing the Bosphorus River where the cold winds would blow in from!!! Duh!! But hey it was either sit there or in the dorm room to socialize, read or eat!! But shit the Wifi didn't seem to work in our dorm which sucked! But we did pick up some unsecure network sporadically!

The good part about the Harmony Hostel and why I’d probably stay there again (when I come back to Istanbul in Dec & Jan) is the cool people working there plus the easy access to the Araturk airport! The other thing is the free breakfast provided plus in the evenings they always cook up a Pasta meal which they do cuz they want to not cuz it’s part of our hostel fee! The woman cooking breakfast is a no fuss, no nosense, lack of humor, non English speaking Turkish woman who had worked there last year too! But the dude who worked days there Insham or whatever was a real cool funny guy! One of the other guys working or at least hanging around there remembered me from last year!

Yeah they always cooked up a different pasta meal in the evening which was great! So guess I never ate at a restaurant or bought any food during my stay in Istanbul!! Which is why I'd brave the cold dingy rooms cuz the price was right!!

Noticed that it was kind of breezy in our dorm room the first night! So checked the windows and noticed that there was a small hole about 10 cm wide! Also the window didn’t close cuz the hinge was broken! So told the guy there and it was fixed up with a bit of duct tape- good old duct tape!!!! Then it was nice in the room!

There were basically 4 of us staying there for the 3 days I was there! A Polish dude Kris who was cool, a Mexican guy Fernando who was kinda young & a socially awkward American Max! There was also some Asian guy who kept to himself who could speak English but he was as friendly as Cancer! When I met him I asked where he was from just to be courteous and friendly! But the dude said he didn’t want to tell me – shit that was a first!! So we all just left him alone after that!

One night Ishan or whatever the dude’s name was said he’d take us to a bar! So the 4 of us and a couple of chicks were to this bar, restaurant, club kind of place! I figure the dude got some kind of kick back from the bar for bringing people to the establishment! But shit who cares cuz that’s the way business is done in a lot of places in the world! Anyway we all got a bit drunk and wasted so had a good time hanging out there with the others from the hostel!

So yeah the next day I woke up with a bit of a hangover! But shit had to catch my cheap flight to Riga! The flight was one way and meant I had to stay over night in Budapest! So a normal 3 hrs flight took me over 24 hrs!! Going to the airport cost me 4 Lira (about $2 CAD). I took the tram part of the way and then caught the Metro which took me straight to the Araturk airport (my hotel the first night in Istanbul)!

I was planning to sleep at the Budapest airport for the 1 night! But I got there about 4 pm which was too early to sleep! Also found the airport was quite small so there were a lot of people sitting in the few benches that were available! Plus the seats were all made of steel with no padding to sleep on! So it was not a great airport to sleep at - http://www.sleepinginairports.net/list.asp?region=1&country=Hungary&city=Budapest&terminal=International !

Like found this about the Istanbul main airport “Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul is a modern and spacious facility that has a lots of space to sleep in both before and beyond the security gate. The airport, which see 29 million travelers each year has been recently renovated and has cafes with large comfortable couches, free wi-fi, and a number of shops that remain open 24 hours.The airport itself is quiet between the hours of 10pm and about 4am when traffic really picks up. An airport that has the bulk of its flights scheduled for the daylight hours make that airport a great place to crash overnight.”

So thought shit man what am I going to do from 4 pm until midnight when I wanted to sleep! I had tried to book a bed at this hostel in Budapest that my friend Jasmina worked at in the city! But shit they needed a 2 night min stay so that wouldn’t work! Plus shit it was raining like hell plus windy! So I kind of wimped out (as it was near the start of my trip when I had still had a lot of $$ plus had to get my feet wet & then would take on any kind of thing to save money) & got the lady at the Info desk to find me a cheap room at this local hotel with free shuttle service! So basically got a hostel dorm style room & a shared bathroom & shower down the hall for about $50 CAD! So yeah got picked up taken to this sort of motel / hotel with free Wifi & breakfast! Then they gave me a free shuttle ride to this cheap restaurant a wanted to eat some Hungarian goulash & dumplings which I love!!! Hmmmmm

So yeah then spent the evening catching up on my travel blog ! Met an American couple who were doing their once in a life (their words not mine) trip for months! They had been to Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda so we swapped lies about our adventures in Africa! lol They seemed quite well to do (he owned a small IT type company & she was a lawyer) but anyone on a lengthy trip can only do it if on a tight budget cuz I know as do it all the time! They had to pay for a cab to get to and from the airport so they asked if I wanted to share a cab since we were leaving around the same time! But man I had negotiated a free shuttle to and from the airport so had to pass on their offer!

So that was my short sweet stay at a motel/hotel which will be my first and only stay like that! But hell sometimes a person has to stretch their pocket book to include something more! I don’t do it often but if I really needed to well can afford it but shit man like I say I’m frugal/tight!!!

Then it was off to Riga, Latvia to visit and hang out with a nice chill Latvian friend of mine Arta!
Yeah guess should post some pictures but that takes time & a good internet connection so hey stay tuned & keep checking back cuz will do it soon insha’allah!!!

Used Istanbul as base on trip to Ethiopia, E. Europe & Abu Dbabi! 



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