Cohabiting with foreigners for the first time in Istanbul, Turkey

by - 4/04/2018

Our Turkey trip was our first in many aspects. After hearing a lot about B and Bs, we decided to take the plunge. Before this we were completely hotel stayers and it would not hurt to try an apartment for once. So we crossed our fingers and booked an apartment. had good reviews about it and we hoped for the best.

Warm welcome with a hot cup of coffee after a sleepless and jetlagged night of journey...
The main reason for choosing Sophia Apartments or Centre apartments was its location. It was located in Sultanahmat, the heart of Istanbul and all the main tourist spots were in the vicinity. Also the metro station and tram station were nearby. Having said that, it was far from the airport. In this trip we decided to be super adventurous and ditched the taxi. So we bought the 'Istanbul Kart'. It's very similar to our Delhi metro card ; the only difference being that the Istanbul Kart was valid for all means of public transport..bus, tram, metro and ferry.

Charging the Kart was one hell of a problem. The upside was that we could use a single card for multiple persons. As soon as we had landed in Istanbul, we had been facing language problem. Immigration was long and we were exhausted after about 24 hours of journey. We quickly made our way out of the airport towards the Metro station. Buying the Istanbul Kart was simple but recharging it was a mammoth task. There were no clear cut instructions in English. Finally a policeman came to our rescue and we boarded the train.

We were required to change two metros for reaching the Sulatnahmat station. The real task began after we deboarded the train. According to Google map it was about 15 minutes walk from there. We followed my husband's internal GPS (brain) and proceeded. When we reached what we thought to be THE place, we started searching for Centre Apartments. There were rows of houses everywhere but none read Centre Apartment nor any passer by could tell us where it was. After about one hour of hunting, I sat on the road. We were ready to give up and had accepted it to be fraud. I wish I could have taken pictures of those moments but believe me were sweating with stress. We had paid everything and paying for a new hotel involved uncalled expenses. Even their phone was unreachable. I vowed never to book an apartment again.

In front of the Sofia Apartments.. the entire neighborhood rented out space for travellers
One of the neighbours was very sweet and he accompanied my husband in knocking door to door. I sat on the pavement exhausted and crestfallen with all our luggage. After a total of three hours on the road, they finally knocked on the right door. Yes we finally found Centre Apartments!

I was quite furious when we entered. I mean why no board or sign? Are we fools? We lost three hours of precious travel time! However our mood changed immediately after meeting our hosts. The house was very beautiful and they were very sweet ( not to mention they were very good looking too). We were greeted with a warm cup of coffee. We quickly freshened up and left for the nearest spots of the city.

A very warm welcome by the younger brother...Kenan Baktas
It was around eleven when we came back. It had already been 48 hours that we had slept. Our last sleep was in Santorini 2 days back. Anyways that did not deter us from enjoying more.

With the entire warm family and our new Italian friends...
Our hosts were two brothers. The elder one was a family of four while the younger one Kenan was of my age. Since Kenan knew English, we became very good friends. We are still in touch.

With our new Italian friends...Diane and Mauro. Yummy Turkish Tea and roast chicken. I made Maggi for hubs in the microwave
That night apart from us, an Italian couple was also there as guests. Kenan was making grilled chicken and he invited us to join. We all four sat on the dining table and started chatting. It did not take much time to break the ice. We chatted from topics ranging from travel to politics...anything that we could think of. It was two in the morning. Kenan made us delicious Turkish Tea. We chatted and chatted till our eyes gave up. We were humans after all.

48 hours of sleeplessness yet we were still chatting!
I consider that night of bonding with three foreigners the best part of our entire trip. It is one experience that is going to be etched in our minds forever. A world traveller has to be open minded. After having such an awesome experience at an apartment, we have decided to stay like this in our next trip too :D

Turkish Delight and Baklava shop

Beautiful Turkish lamps in front of the apartments...

Wooden staircase...

The foyer

The dining room
Here is what all we learnt from the trip that made me fall in love with the world even more:

1. People are very helpful. I mean in a foreign land like Turkey, everyone went ahead to help us...starting from the policeman who helped recharge our Istanbul Kart to that stranger who accompanied my husband in locating Centre Apartments. If he was not there, God knows when we could have found our B n B. Having a local help you is the greatest blessing in a foreign land.

2. Staying in someone's apartment is the coolest thing ever! I mean this is the closest one can get to a foreign culture. The best way to learn about their personal as well as domestic habits.

3. The Turkish are very warm and are incredibly hospitable. I mean it was no where written to serve us chicken in the evening or brew us fresh Turkish tea in the middle of the night. Neither it was mandatory to serve us coffee right after we arrived. They were simply kind. 

4. Midnight chats are simply the best even if it involves participants from three different countries (and religions)! We not only came closer to Turkish culture but to Italian culture too through that lovely Italian couple! The best part? We are still friends and in touch through Facebook.

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  1. Midnight chats are always the best, you're so right!! You can really bond and get to know people in a fun way :)

    XO, Jessi

  2. This looks like so much fun! I've never tried anything like this, but I would like to au pair with a family in Summer that I've never met before if that counts haha. Glad you had such a wonderful time.

    Wandering Everywhere

  3. Awesome to be around people that share about their culture