Two Missions in Turkey – Wedding And Paragliding

I needed to accomplish my two missions in Turkey. The first one which was paramount was to attend my friend’s wedding. She was marrying a Turkish guy. Nobody from her family could go to Turkey but she really wanted her friends from Asia to attend her wedding in Turkey. I was the only person who was flexible with my schedule in the group so she asked and texted me several times. Her other wedding would be held in Vietnam where all her family and relatives were. At one stage, she even asked me if I would wear the traditional Vietnamese dress. I didn’t want to pretend that I was Vietnamese so I declined.  The second mission was to go paragliding. My paragliding coach asked us if we wanted to go paragliding in Turkey and of course, most of us responded positively. However, I wasn’t good enough to do solo paragliding at that height (the highest one I did solo was only 300 – 400 metres high but this one was around 2,000 metres high. That was a huge difference), so I decided not to do any solo paragliding. I planned to do tandem though. 😛

These two things happened at the same time. It was such a coincidence!

As an avid traveller, of course, I’d travel around the country too.

All set.

Off I went.

I arrived in Istanbul in the afternoon. It was soooooo HOT!! 

Yes, I know, it’s not my first time to complain about the heat.  I am sure our Mother Earth is sick. She has a fever, all the time.

I walked in the heat from the tram stop to my hostel. I was glad the hostel had air conditioning and it was comfortable.

First day in Turkey. This was an alley near my hostel. The sky was so blue! It was extremely hot!

I asked my Turkish friend about Turkey before I went there. He ‘warned’ me that Turkish guys were extremely friendly, so friendly that as a lady, you might not know how to handle it. ‘Yeah, I know. That’s why I sometimes don’t know how to handle you.’ 😛 This kind of banter is very common among my group of friends. 😀

Started my second day with breakfast at the rooftop of the hostel I stayed at.

My friend’s wedding was in the middle of nowhere but that was where the groom’s family was. Before I went to Turkey, I met another Turkish guy who told me, ‘none of us would go to that place!’ That probably gives you an idea where I was going – another off the beaten path 😛

Similar to other countries, there were free walking tours in Istanbul and of course, without a second thought, I joined it.

But before that, I needed to get my plane ticket sorted out first. To go to my friend’s place, I needed to take the plane, bus or the new fast train and then another bus or train ride.  The hostel suggested me to try the agency across the road so I did but they were off duty.  They asked me to come back at 2pm.  That’d be after the walking tour. Perfect.

It was around 11am when I joined the walking tour. That meant it was extremely hot!!!

August – maybe it’s the best month to travel to Mongolia or Russia or Northern Europe instead…

The walking tour basically took us to all the famous tourists spots – Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topaki Palace. The guide was ok. She recommended a restaurant and the kind of food we could order and also a cistern that we could visit. It’s free entrance. Having no plans for today, I decided to enter into all these places except Topaki Palace within today. But first thing first, check the agency.

I went back to the travel agency but they quoted me a price which was still quite high so I decided not to use them. What should I do then?  My mission was to attend her wedding. I had to go. 

I saw one seat left for the train, so I took the tram to the train station to buy the ticket. However, because Turkey is a Muslim country, they have a strict rule – a single female cannot sit with another male. This applies to foreigners too. That one seat was right beside a male so I couldn’t buy that ticket. The train company would rather leave that seat empty or wait for another man to buy a ticket. Oh well… There were some other bus companies around the train station so I checked with them – all full.

The question was why did I spend so much time on physically going to so many different places to buy just one ticket? Why didn’t I just do it on the internet? Wasn’t there Wifi in the hostel? Didn’t all these companies accept online payment? Yes to all these questions. But thanks to my credit card companies. Whichever ticket I wanted to buy, they’d send me an OTP code via SMS. Now, that’s the problem! SMS! That meant I had to have roaming service. GOSH! Nowadays, who’d use roaming service?! The local phone cards were so much cheaper and convenient! Without roaming, I couldn’t receive the OTP via SMS. I had complained to my credit card companies but the unprofessional staff gave me all sorts of excuses. In conclusion, SMS was the only means they’d use. No other alternatives. Stupid. What year was it now? 2018! Not Stone Age!

I spent nearly half a day doing all these. I had been to the less touristy places in Istanbul and I had to draw a conclusion – I didn’t like it that much. Once you are away from the tourist spots, you’ll find that it’s very dusty, dirty and polluted. With the heat and humidity, I couldn’t stand it anymore.

I had to ask for the bride’s help. I didn’t really want to do it because she was also busy with her wedding as well.   

But she helped. She even paid for this domestic air ticket for me.

Plan for tomorrow? I’d fly to Konya and then take a bus or something to Karaman. I’d figure out how at the Konya airport tomorrow.

After all these hassles, I still had time to visit the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and the cistern before they closed. 🙂

The Blue Mosque
Outside of Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia. Look at the crowds!!!!
Hagia Sophia was originally built as a church. The name means Holy Wisdom. ‘Sophia’ is not a name. It’s the phonetic spelling in Latin of the Greek word, ‘wisdom’. You can check out more info on Wikipedia.
Christian icons, relics, paintings, etc. were destroyed or plastered over when Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque later. This part of the wall reveals the original Christian painting before the conversion. The question is, which one should we preserve, the original Christian paintings or the Islamic ones?  Apparently, the Turkish government wants to preserve both in the now Hagia Sophia museum.

I still had some time to visit the cistern as recommended by the tour guide. It’s free and it’s close to my hostel so why not?

It was quite interesting to stand on the elevated ground in the Square imagining what the past was like – chariots racing in this Square with the crowds sitting at the spectator stand…

I stayed in the cistern for an hour or so until it closed. It was so cool down there!!

The cistern was right next to the restaurant recommended by the tour guide and it was very close to my hostel. Guess what I did next? 😀 Of course! I was hungry! 😀

My tummy was satisfied.

The food was soooo good. I couldn’t resist giving the waiter thumbs up several times.

Night time. I regained some energy after such a sumptuous early dinner so I went to the Grand Bazaar but it was closed. It was ok. That area was quite dirty anyway. The bride said the goods there were all overpriced. The only thing she liked was the architecture. I believe I didn’t miss much.  😛 I later had another chance to visit a similar bazaar in another city in Turkey. Stay tuned. 😉

I needed to get ready for tomorrow to catch the plane.

A trip to the airport again.

7 August 2018 and 8 August 2018

4 thoughts on “Two Missions in Turkey – Wedding And Paragliding

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