One big piece of advice that we’ve garnered from other travelers and guides is to trick your body into believing it is in the time zone of the place you’re currently in and never utter the phrase, well back in Japan, where I was just yesterday, it’s 2am, I should be sleeping!
We landed in Istanbul, Turkey after a red eye flight from the Maldives with a long layover in Abu Dhabi. Our airbnb apartment wasn’t ready yet (I mean, it was 6am) so we harnessed our energy and let the fooling begin – it’s the early morning.. let’s have breakfast!
Luckily, a recommended spot, Cafe Smyrna, was right across the street so we plopped our bags down and enjoyed some fresh juice, pancakes and a grilled cheese (our very first taste of haloumi in Turkey). Project body clock deception: success!
The apartment was ready soon after we finished our last bits of gooey cheese. While settling in and starting to plan how we’re going to maximize our mere 3 days in the city, we get a visit from our host, Billur, who took us on a walk of the neighborhood, pointing out restaurants and cafes that were her favorite. She then helped us map out our itinerary for our brief stay in Istanbul. What would have taken us a couple of hours to do on our own, she easily summarized in a matter of minutes. Locals: 1, guidebooks: 0.
After bidding farewell to Billur, the inevitable happened – jetlag and sleepiness hit us right in the face. The bodyclock deception plan failed and we knocked out for the next three hours.
When we opened our eyes, two strange thoughts entered our minds:
- Where are we?
- Why is the room moving??!
The first occurred because we’ve grown so used to our cozy cabin on the dhoni, and the second was the result of sea legs. Our initial fear was that we were experiencing an actual earthquake, but after thinking for a minute, earthquakes don’t create an undulating motion. For a couple minutes, the room felt like it was harnessed in a big swing and the playground bully was pushing us as hard as he can. We regained enough stability to mobilize for our afternoon walk, but we didn’t feel completely normal until the next day.
Our saunter led us down Istiklal St. to take in the first of many sights unique to both Istanbul and Turkey: Taksim square, chestnut roasters, grand but simple churches, Turkish Delight, showy ice cream vendors, juice purveyors, street performers, a modern art gallery, and meze, lots of meze.
We successfully powered through our first day in Istanbul, vertigo and all.