So far, the trip has gone remarkably well, without any incidents or accidents. Well, until Istanbul.
Walking home from the hamam and the restaurant on Tuesday, I passed into my neighborhood, an area of Beyoglu that is clearly poorer, more run-down than the blocks around Istiklal street.
The houses are old, some abandoned, the streets full of holes, the laundry drying in between them and at night all the stray cats try to get some food out of the trash bags.
Still it didn’t feel particularly dangerous, and all the other guests in my place stressed that they felt safe. It rather looks authentic, not like a touristy, polished quarter.
I ran into those guys past midnight at the entry to my street, passed them without incident, until one came after spoke to me, and started slapping and pushing me. I explained calmly that I lived in that street, but he didn’t stop until I called for help pretty loud.
He left and I got back into my apartment. Not really hurt, but pretty rattled… Not sure what triggered all this…
All of this could have happened in any of the cities I have visited, to an extend, even though some of the countries I’ve been to are simply more quiet, behaved, considerate than others… or maybe its just less testosterone.
I didn’t sleep well and in the morning I was sure I didn’t want to stay there. My sister would come Saturday, and it would not be fun to come back every night, or just expect another incident.
I checked my options, the cancellation policy of my place was pretty flexible, meaning I would only lose one night if I cancelled it now, but be refunded for the other three weeks. I also started to look for other places to go.
In between, I went to see Sven and Kevin for lunch, but I was a bit on edge. Stuff like that always gets to me and I feel sick to my stomach…
But back home, I kicked into action and rented another place, close by but on the safer, richer side on the hill. I cancelled the old place (with Airbnb immediately refunding the 21 nights to my card) and, in a final step, booked myself into the Radisson Blu for tonight.
I had collected their points for ages without ever cashing them in, thanks to countless visits to London and the Clubcarlson.com rewards. My silver status also got me a free upgrade to a bigger room with a view on the Golden Horn. Saga class.
In the end, crisis averted and practical problems solved rather quickly.
So after all that, I had a visit to the Spa and I’ll spend tonight in a huge heavenly bed, before moving my stuff to the new place tomorrow.
Istanbul and I were off to a rocky start, but let’s give this another chance.