Out of a blur I came up with an idea, dialed my mates number and well here’s what happened…
Me: “Hi man, well you know how it’s my 18th in 2 weeks, I don’t really feel like just partying you fancy going travelling for 48 hours instead?”
Best mate (Toby): “that’s a bit ridiculous, I mean where can we go, but yeah i’m up for it!”
So I opened up google maps and started thinking where do I want to go next?
Morocco, Istanbul, Barcelona, Norway?
Well, one by one we decided Istanbul, booked the flights, paid for our Visas and we were set.
So it’s Friday 4th March, I finished at college at 4:30, headed home, packed my bag, grabbed my camera, met up with Toby at the station and hopped on a train to Heathrow International Airport, London. Our flight at 10:30pm, overnight to Istanbul.
4:15 am and we have landed, go through security, grab our bags and try and catch a little bit of sleep on Ataturk airport’s benches, before the hectic city exploring takes place.
5am and we are up again, the key thing on this trip is that time is precious, very precious. The less time we spend sleeping the more time we spend exploring. So we decide to get into the city, find a taxi and hand him a piece of paper with an address to our AirBnB that we are staying at for one night. He reckons he can get us there but doesn’t seem certain, we went anyway, threw our bags in the back of the taxi and hopped into the back seats.
A gentle sunrise greets us as we make away across the city, empty streets and taking in the Mosques dotted along our route.
Anyone who travels will know that there are always uncertainties, well we arrive at this side road, the taxi driver says we are here, not quite believing him as it looks like a deserted alley we step out look around and agree that it’s better than nowhere, pay him the taxi fare grab our bags and he drives off. Now the issue is firstly finding the AirBnB and secondly the check in time is 8am and we are here at 6am, we make the most of it, exploring the streets and start shooting some portraits of each other.
As photographers we can get pretty excited by golden hour light, so the time was passed simply and contently by photographing the streets with a gentle morning light.
EXPLORING THE CITY
After having been shown around our apartment which we will stay in 1 night, we climb up to the rooftop, the view is unbelievable, surrounded by 3 Mosques, the Bosphorus and Galata Tower. Were eager to get down into the city on foot and just explore as much as we remembering that we are only there for 48 hours.
Not really sure where we were going we headed in the direction where we had seen the Bosphorus from the roof and towards the centre. Soon we find ourselves exploring the ins and outs of any side passages, markets and stalls that catch our eyes. The Grand Bazaar is a whirlwind of passages and alleyways filled with shop against shop, every inch of the place is utilised somehow and it’s got quite a unique atmosphere, friendly and excitable.
A place we were keen to explore was the Spice Market. After having lost ourselves in endless little backstreets we finally found the Spice market by asking local street vendors, our success of finding the market was entirely based on the honesty of the people who could not speak English instead who would just point down a street and we would follow the direction in which they pointed. The colours, smells and fragrances from the Spices are overpowering, yet amazing. Baskets filled with different tea leaves, nuts and spices you’ve never even heard of before.
We all know that time passes quickly when you‘re having fun, well that’s exactly what happened our first day was coming to a near end. As we wander the streets of the neighbourhood where we are staying we find this roadside pizza cafe, time for dinner I think.
While we struggle to order with pretty much nil knowledge of the language we end up making friends with two, young Americans who have been traveling for 2 months solid. We chatted, exchanged stories, laughed and ask them where they are off to next. They said they had found jobs for 2 months on a date farm in Israel so that was where they were headed. We part with our pizzas and head up to our rooftop view to enjoy the single sunset we will experience on this short trip.
As expected we pretty much drop fast asleep after dinner, exhausted from the lack of sleep on the plane and trying to capture as much culture during our short visit.
Sunday morning, time is ticking.
The weather is gorgeous, from the balcony warm sunlight falls and it’s the perfect weather to wake up to. By 9am we’ve pretty much packed our bags ready to grab quickly on return to our accommodation after one last little explore around the city. But first, find food, a Traditional Turkish breakfast was right down our street. A cafe nestled in on a busy market street caught our eye so we found a table, ordered and ate.
GIVE IT A GO!
We had one last place we wanted to see, the iconic Hagia Sophia. Taking the backstreets we navigated our way around until we are there standing in front of a mosque. The colours and immense size are just mindblowing. But after admiring the mosque sadly we clock the time and yes somehow we need to make it back to our Airbnb and to the airport, without getting distracted by markets, people and without getting lost.
Taxi’s in Istanbul are an interesting experience, very friendly but as any traveller will know each taxi driver has their own driving style and well ours definitely did and I reckon he was amused by our slightly worried expressions. Well at least he was laughing, we were exhausted but very content with our 48 hour adventure.
As the taxi drove us to the airport we just took the time to relax and reflect on what a short adventure can bring, I strongly suggest trying a 48 hour adventure for yourself. You learn to cut down to the basics and enjoy yourself in the moment. Go give it a go?
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FOOTNOTES: Photos & story by Clement Hodgkinson