Our Istanbul couch host asked us to meet him tangential to the metro station. Of course, on a square where the metro exit comes out of the ground in the middle, this had no meaning. We waited by a large flag and sent a message telling him where we were but after many minutes of waiting we were still alone. My two hitchhiking friends disappeared to Starbucks in the hope of using an American gift card and I was left alone to be greeted by the guy we were staying with. ‘Silly boys,’ he said shaking my hand firmly, ‘I said to meet by the metro station.’ It wasn’t so much the words as the way he said them that made me prickle.
To rant is unattractive and achieves nothing. However, I had a sufficiently unpleasant experience to want to share it. The day was late, I had almost no money in the world, and we were tired and hungry so going back to the apartment and cooking something seemed like a perfect idea. Our host had other ideas. He took us to a restaurant and unfortunately forgot his wallet, meaning that we paid. He then took us to a bar where we actually had a pleasant time interacting with many couch surfers at one of their weekly meetings. After one drink, we were very ready to rest, but in our sweaty clothes and lumbering under the strain of our backpacks, we were dragged to a another bar. We stood at the door and waited.
Catching a bus back, we all gave money to the guy who said he’d sort out the buses for us, only to find out that we had paid considerably too much. The following morning, we were desperate to see Istanbul and our host offered to take us out. We waited for him to get up in the afternoon at which point he declared he would cook lunch. While he went to the shop, we were allocated cleaning jobs. I was given the job of cleaning the broken glass table that he had smashed three days before but not bothered to clean up. As I was clearing the broken glass, another couch surfer who was also staying in the apartment started touching my back and made me rather uncomfortable. I moved away and he didn’t do it again. My Slovakian friend seemed to generate much more interest and he received multiple spontaneous back rubs without offering an invitation. The girl in our our party of three had no such ‘pleasure.’
Give Me Money
We were then told that we would cover the very expensive lunch. I do not mind sharing costs, but I cannot pay restaurant prices without knowing it in advance. We left the house at 7 pm to go to a bar and that was how we saw Istanbul. That evening I made an excuse to leave. The following day we were made to clean and questioned to why we were leaving. He told us how very disappointed he was about us leaving in-between the stories about learning 5 languages simultaneously and having apartments in over 30 countries. Honesty is something I value. He seemed to have lost all concept of reality and fantasy. After a cold swim, we finally escaped in the afternoon and ran down the street as he pretended to throw water over us. Together, we celebrated in the street that we were free.
We did ‘learn’ a few things from this guy such as ‘owls eat bugs,’ that ‘potatoes are from America,’ and he read 18,000 by the time he was 18 because he only had to look at a page to fully understand it all. Since that time, he stopped reading because reading became boring as he could predict all the endings. I was also invited to work in his tyre recycling company, learnt about his South American motorbike trip that he couldn’t remember, bandaged his leg, and found out that he was a martial arts grand master. It started at the age of 12 when he beat up an adult for the first time. Their were a few more delusions of grandeur and I have already shared too much so I should stop. I couldn’t make this stuff up.
Istanbul, My New Home
We found a new guy by a statue of a bull and Istanbul turned from a terrible place into a wonderful one. ‘I want to live here,’ I said and it was soon to become true. I just didn’t know it at this time.
Drinking wine, honey covered bagels, Turkish confectionary, and deep fried donut, Istanbul was transformed. Parts of the city are beautiful and full of mosques, ancient building, and a diverse range of people. That evening we sat together in a hookah bar that overlooked Istanbul and we could see for many kilometres (as an Englishman, I want to say miles). Suddenly everything was OK again.