The Travelling Stranger In Istanbul Turkey

Istanbul

The Travelling Stranger In Istanbul Turkey or An Angel In Istanbul?

I drove into Istanbul for the first time in my life at peak hour – guided by a GPS that could not be trusted.  Dusk was creeping into the afternoon sky, and the voice that guided me from this device instructed me to turn right into a place I will ever forget.

As we drove down the one-way lane there was no turning back.

We turned another corner and a mass of people walked the street like buzzing bees to a hive – they were everywhere and packed the streets like sardines in a can! Throngs of pedestrians parted like Moses walking into the Red Sea as I drove our car deeper and deeper into ‘trouble’.

Next, I look up and I am beside the Grand Bazaar in the old quarter of Istanbul! This is the kind of thing you see in a comedy movie, but this was US in real life.

Yes ! I was in serious trouble.

Driving a car through the Grand Bazaar?

Istanbul

©Exploramum and Explorason – The crowded streets of Istanbul in 2014 Photo 2

You must be kidding me!

This is clearly not a place cars should be, let alone a single Australian Mum and her child driving their black car. My nerves were on edge, and my stomach started to churn as folks started banging on our vehicle glass and metal panels.

Tourists glared at us like we were complete idiots and laughed at our predicament, and I felt like a complete fool for listening to this British GPS that seemed so often to misguide us.

I wound down the window in distress hoping for assistance.

It was clear from the steering wheel being on the ‘wrong side’ plus our GB license plates (along with our dust covered car stacked with luggage) that we were ‘travellers in distress’ and that we had no idea where we were meant to be going.

Istanbul

©Exploramum and Explorason – The crowded streets of Istanbul in 2014 Photo 3

What happened next I will never forget.

Instead of an angry crowd, the local Turkish folk all gathered around trying to assist us. They stood around the car all speaking Turkish at us – we had no clue what they were saying – and somehow we did a U-turn on what felt like a coin-sized area. One man at each corner guided our vehicle as it somehow managed to do a 180-degree spin.

I pulled out my notebook and showed them the address of our Hotel, and a then one of the gentlemen offered to get in our car and ‘show us the way’.

With the back seat full of bags, my son climbed onto his lap as we snaked our way through the back streets.

Closed off or barricaded streets blocked us. When we finally found the way, road works closed the way yet again as we looked on to a street with a gaping hole in the centre.

Now many of you might think I was crazy as a single Mum to let a stranger into my car, but often a stranger can be trusted, and in this case, I felt I could trust him.

It took 40 minutes to find our way – even though the hotel was only a few blocks from where we turned off incorrectly in the first place.

When we arrived, he helped unload our bags, and then we both looked up and he had DISAPPEARED!

Sometimes I feel like an angel helped us that day.

Whoever he was we’ll probably never know, but this total stranger showed us the true spirit of those that dwell in Istanbul.

We Are The Strangers

Istanbul

©Exploramum and Explorason – The crowded streets of Istanbul in 2014 Photo 4

Istanbul is a city of humans (just like you and me) who welcomed and cared for us, for really we are the strangers visit their land.

Often tourists and travellers demand or act as though they have ‘rights’, but we believe we are guests in their country and in this case we were guests of Turkey.

Not a day went by as we journeyed through Turkey that a stranger did not help us. It was often directions, something a little extra for my son at a meal, or a smile. We stayed at a hotel and the owner (when we chatted and told him we had visited Troy) went and gave my son a little Troy statue that we will cherish forever because we remember ‘the little things’ and they hold special memories of the kindness towards us.

We stayed at a hotel and the owner (when we chatted and told him we had visited Troy) went and gave my son a little Troy statue that we will cherish forever because we remember ‘the little things’ and they hold special memories of the kindness towards us.

Grand Bazaar

©Exploramum and Explorason – Us in the Grand Bazaar Istanbul in 2014

Istanbul Awaits You

Now – just a couple of years later, the streets of Istanbul are not so crowded. The tourists are few, and the travellers who stay certainly wouldn’t be blocked by crowds like we were that day.

The Grand Bazaar is still packed with Turkish lamps, painted pottery and traditional wares for sale, as the seller waits in hope for a sale that day. But it is not packed with tourists.

The events of their land and neighbouring lands in the past years has affected the Turks, but these individuals did not cause it. They are the people who live here and life goes on with hope in their hearts that one day tourists will again crowd the streets. They need to feed their families and they continue to welcome you here. They cannot change the past, nor give you a promise about the future.

But they can show you true the true hospitality of Istanbul.

As they pour you a coffee, and feed you your meal, take time to look at the person who serves you, for he too has a story to tell; a family to feed; a life and dreams; and a purpose on this earth – just like you.

Our world journey has taken us to 70 countries now over nearly 5 years.

We do not live with fear because we believe God takes care of us. For I was recently told “more people choke on a fish bone than get caught in a terrorist attack”.

We look forward to travelling to Istanbul once more.

And as we do, we will keep our eyes open for the stranger who helped us that day.

Maybe he really was an angel – we will never know.

Istanbul

©Exploramum and Explorason – Turkish lamps for sale in the Grand Bazaar – I bought one in 2014

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The wording in this article is our own and used to describe how we felt in this situation. We try to be as factual as possible, and any error or omission is not intentional. This article does not represent the views of any other person/s or company mentioned herein.  All photographs are ©Copyright 2017 Exploramum and Explorason. It is illegal to post this article in part or full on any other website without written permission.

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