I couldn’t be in the region and not to spend a couple of days in Turkey, even with the high costs it involves because my insurance in Portugal does not cover that country so I had to make a temporary one at the border for minimum 3 months witch was 85EUR plus the visa also for 3 months for 25EUR all at the Ipsala border. After this process I was legal in Turkey for 3 months even through I only stayed for 6 days and just on the European part. I decided not to go to the Asian side because my budget is already too short and I believe that this could be the starting point to a future Adventure so I decided to leave that door open.
About the country itself, food and diesel are really cheap, but 6 days are not enough to compensate for what I left at the border, however it helps a bit keeping up with the budget. I made a stop at Tekirdag to get a feel of the country and try to understand how things work around there before entering the capital city. I realized that there is a lot of investment from the government in improving the overall conditions of the country, I did pretty much all of the tri in Turkey on 2 lanes highway without paying, inside the cities things look generally well taken care of specially the ones by the sea, with nice seaside promenades and good looking gardens, maybe because I came from Greece and wasn’t expecting thing to be so nice and organized, I was wrong and it was a great surprise.
People are mostly poor and salaries are low, but they manage themselves somehow, and there is work, a lot of agricultural production and textile, apart from public work and normal commerce and private services, outside the cities ans specially in the interior I noticed the conditions seem a bit worse and there are some poor neighborhoods and people living in tents and barracks, but inside the cities nothing much different from most European cities.
Istanbul… well I have never been in such a big city before, for the ones who never driven till there just to give you an idea, 50kms before the historic center I was already inside the city, I entered there during the night at around 4 in the morning to be able to drive peacefully and find a nice spot to park, and even at that time there was a lot of traffic at some points, I ended up at around 7km from the center on a huge neighborhood full of textile stores, warehouses and small factories all this at the ground floors and basements of residential buildings. Fortunately and I usually walk in cities I don’t use public transportation, but I had the van really far from the center in a place with no reference points so it was great to have the Tram nearby straight to the center.
At the center it is a special city, the historical part, the famous Blue Mosque witch I visited and it is awesome, the Grand Bazaar, a kind of traditional market where you can find pretty much anything and it’s easy to loose yourself inside given it’s huge size. Walking around the city, the smell of spices and food can almost drag you inside one of the many restaurants, and if we try to resist that urge, the restaurant employees will convince you to get in somehow, sweets are also amazing and a temptation. There is also the Kennedy avenue seaside walk witch has for what I realized at least 10km and goes around the entire city center. It is definitely worth to stop by this entry door to Asia, learn a t about the Muslim culture witch can be important to nowadays so we can see the world in a different and more informed way.
Resuming, at least for the European part (about the rest I cant talk because I don’t know it… yet) you wont feel strange there, its not that different from any other place in Europe but it’s the small differences that will make it a great experience to visit it, about me, hopefully I will be able to continue from where I’ve stopped in a future adventure.
Stay with a short video and some pictures I took on this days in Turkey so you can have a better idea of how this country is like.