The time I fell in love with Istanbul

Today was our first day in Istanbul – the only city in the world that spans Europe and Asia. We are here for seven nights. It was actually a last minute thing and we landed here on a beautiful October morning at 6AM when almost the whole city was asleep. Thank God, we had arranged for a pick up from the airport – courtesy of our hotel.

Our hotel was 15 minutes away from the airport in the famous and historic area of Sultanahmet. On our way to the hotel, we drove past many interesting and old buildings – even walls of an ancient fort that covered a big part of the city. An interesting observation was that they also have houses built in the boundary, as you will find in Pakistan.

The city started to wake up and other commuters joined us on the road. I still couldn’t believe that we have landed in a foreign country. We reached our hotel at 7AM; too early for check-in at any hotel. Our hotel was a private accommodation turned into small and independent apartments. Our host, Bedirhan, owner of the Kadirga Mansion, offered us breakfast at an adjoining café and informed us that the room will be ready for check-in by 12PM – that meant we had five hours to kill. All we could do was sit in the café, walk around or go see the city with a cranky baby and tired selves. We didn’t do any of the above because it seemed next to impossible to drag ourselves and the baby, who started crying to see strange people and places when she woke up.

We requested Bedirhan to find us a place nearby to rest till the room is ready to checked-in. He left us to devour the breakfast the café owner made and came back a little while later with the good news that he has found a place at his friend’s place. His friend lived at a walking distance away. The houses in Istanbul are really small and so was the house we went to. It didn’t look promising but once inside, the room was very cozy, nicely decorated and had all the necessities.

Aly, the friend, was also a really nice person; he was a music student and an artist who made small decorative items and paintings. The room he gave us was also a piece of art with miniature chairs and table, glasswork lamps and other cute decorations. He also had a guestbook in the room. We later learned that he rents the room through Airbnb and was declared a super host on the website by his guests. He told us that we can use the kitchen and the courtyard while he was away at his music school.

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After we had rested and were feeling less cranky, we went downstairs and took a round of the house. He had the cutest courtyard cum garden. He also had a shop where he sells his artefacts. The place was beautifully decorated. He had utilized a very small place amazingly. He also had a cat and two parrots as pets – which my daughter loved.

When he returned, he offered us tea and told us about himself. He had moved to Turkey from Germany – where he was born and bred. He said Germany was really a struggle and hard work whereas Turkey is more relaxed, which is why he can pursue his hobbies of music and art. He had a wife and an 11-year-old daughter.

After the tea, we thanked Aly for taking us in at a very critical time and moved to our actual accommodation. We could never have experienced such an authentic Turkish household in normal circumstances. I loved how he had given attention to the little details and we kept talking about if we would like our actual apartment as much as we had liked this one.

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