Monday, August 2, 2010


I didn't expect to spend the first night of my Kenyan safari in Istanbul, but this is the hand that I've been dealt.

The adventure began yesterday morning at the airport in Paris. I left my place during what I consider to be the middle of the night in order to make it to the airport for a 7:15am flight. When I arrived, I was advised that my ticket was not for today (shit); rather, my ticket had been canceled since I missed my flight, which left yesterday (SHIT!).

Though we were ultimately able to determine that the error was not mine, I was not able to board the flight, which was overbooked by 19 people. So, for the first time in my life, I went shopping for an airplane ticket at the airport.

"Hi, can you fly me to Nairobi today?". "No.

"Hi, can you fly me to Nairobi today?". "No.

"Hi, can you fly me to Nairobi today?". "No.

"Hi, can you fly me to Nairobi today?". "How badly do you want to go?"

Airlines, of course, offer their best (worst) prices to the pedestrian customer wandering from airport ticket desk to airport ticket desk in search of a same-day ticket. Ultimately, it was Turkish Airlines who hit the jackpot with me; buying a full fare ticket to Nairobi (via Istanbul) just minutes before the flight was scheduled to board.

While I solved the issue of getting out of Paris, my connecting flight in Istanbul was overbooked, so I was forced to spend the night in Istanbul. Probably one of the coolest places to be stranded and I did my best to make the most of it.

Over the last year, I have become quite comfortable arriving in foreign countries totally unprepared. There is a strange thrill in using an ATM machine and having no clue what the exchange rate is. Should I take out 300? 30,000? 3 million? Do I have to barter? Do I tip? Can I wear shorts? What area of town should I stay in? Sometimes it is more fun (and a bit terrifying) to discover the answers yourself.

I arrived late enough in the day that dinner and hotel were the only things on my mind. I stumbled on an affordable hotel room with cutting edge efficiency (I call this the Shit'n'Shower layout).
Whether it was well situated or not, I really can't say; however, it was close to a nice little dining district nicknamed French Street (I can delay my 'homesickness' from France for one more day). First thought: this place has awesome food and cheap hotels!

Second thought: If it is true that it is healthy to sweat, then the people in Istanbul must be very, very healthy. I headed out early this morning to get in a bit of sightseeing before I head to the airport. There are plenty of famous things to see in Istanbul, I made a choice not to try to fit them in during this very brief visit (I have a strong desire to come back and see more of this country).

My destination for morning sight-seeing was the modern art museum at the college of art. Although I wrote down the address of my destination, my taxi driver dropped me off about 5 kilometres from it. I tried making the distance on my own, coaching myself that my sleeveless top gave me an advantage over the heavy black burkas worn by others, but I eventually sought relief in a taxi.
Side note, taxis here have the meter built in to the rearview mirror; pretty cool.
The exhibition at the art college was based on the theme of error. It seemed only fitting that error has brought me to this place...I endeavor to make art of it...and I end up in an exhibition in which art is error.



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