(03.2.2012: I know the events took place more than two years ago and I also know I should have turned this draft into a post back then… but still I’d better do that later than never.)
We overslept and missed the boat trip we planned for the morning so we went the meeting in Fatih where lots of landmarks of Istanbul and former Constantinopole are located. Finding a place to park in this district is a difficult task during holidays so we did it in Karaköy and crossed the Galata bridge walking. On the top of this two-level bridge you could see a huge number of fishermen waiting for their catch to get bored of the muddy water and take a trip to someone’s plate in a nearby restaurant. However we were in a hurry so I ate something as simple as “balık ekmek” (bread with fish) right on the street. :)
We climbed the road to Ayasofiya and Topcapı Sarayı but we couldn’t actually see much as you could spend a whole day in the castle… and we had about half an hour. People were waiting for us in a cafe nearby. As soon as we got together we visited Sultanahmet Cami. Although it is known as The Blue Mosque it doesn’t seem blue at all but it was definitely impressive! We took some photos and went on. Near Mehmet Akif Ersoy park we saw a band of about 20 people playing an Ottoman military march everybody seemed to know. After visiting the famous Kapalıçarşı and buying souvenirs and (of course) Turkish delight we crossed Galata bridge again to get back to Karaköy. In caffeehouses around you could see people smoking nargile, drinking tea and playing traditional games like Tavla and Okey almost on the street. It’s their way to relax during holidays and we gave it a try. It works!
Even more people from France, Netherlands and even Nigeria joined us in a yet another cafe named Istanbul. Die-hard fans had an opportunity to visit a match of the famous Beşiktaş football team, and those who were not that excited of the idea went back to a İstiklal. After having a meal (tas kebabı in my case) in a restaurant we headed to the grand CouchSurfing gathering!
The event took place in Seksek Cafe & Bar – a bar typical for this part of Istanbul on the fifth floor of the building. Event organisers had prepared a wonderful PowerPoint presentation showing the most of the participants (or at least those who had confirmed their presence in advance). We just couldn’t stop dancing, drinking, talking… Well, OK, we stopped at some point during the night and decided to get back home and get some sleep before our last day in Turkey. We even managed to visited the Galata Kulesi meanwhile. It is extremely beautiful… at least from the outside.
Our GPS worked for us that night and we just a few hours before sunset we were back in Asia. :)