Istanbul, 2 shots of whisky and 1 crazy taxi driver

As soon as the passenger next to me on our flight from Dubai to Istanbul popped open his big bottle of whisky he had just bought in duty-free, I knew the trip would be interesting and unpredictable. Johanna and I had bought a small bottle of wine from the flight attendant to celebrate the beginning of our adventure. Our new friend in 10C suggested we join him in drinking whisky. “I already have wine,” I explained, “but thank you!”

“No, really, have some, it’s okay – just add it to your glass,” he insisted. Before we could protest, my friend and I found ourselves drinking red wine mixed with whisky. An interesting concoction, but not really one I’m dying to try again – ha! After straight whisky following the wine/whisky mix, we had to decline the third offer, but still shared pictures of children and grandchildren. We offered him some nuts Johanna had brought along. He liked them so much he ate the whole bag! He munched on them while loudly chatting with friends or family who were a few rows in front of us. What a character.

With warm and rosy cheeks, we gathered our bags and grabbed a taxi.  This was hands down the craziest taxi ride I have ever taken. Yes, even crazier than any Dubai taxi ride and for those who live in Dubai – you know that says a lot. In hindsight, the blue neon strip light shining through the back window and blaring Turkish techno music should have been clues that something was awry. How to explain this trip? Mario Andretti comes to mind.  Yes, driving with Mario Andretti for a solid hour through congested traffic. It’s funny now, but it was terrifying at the time. Convinced an accident was imminent, I thought of my children and how selfish I was to take this trip. I asked him to slow down twice, but that didn’t stop him from swerving, tailgating, cutting across four lanes of traffic to catch an exit at the last-minute, and driving 160 km/hr (that’s 100 mph – no exaggeration!), all while calmly pointing out landmarks along the way instead of looking at the road. It went on for so long I started wondering if we were part of a Turkish practical joke show.

Luckily we arrived safely. We asked him why he was driving so fast, and he said he used to be an ambulance driver.  Huh? I’m not sure if he was joking or not, but one perk was that we arrived at the hotel relatively quickly given the traffic and how far it was from the airport. The man who checked us in saw that I was from Texas on my passport and said he had an internship there for a bit and talked about how much he loved Austin. Such a coincidence!  This was just the beginning of a really fun and funny weekend. More pictures of Istanbul follow. This is my last post of 2014. Happy New Year everyone!

View of Istanbul from Bosphorus

Three of the major Istanbul landmarks: the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, and Topkapi Palace, as seen from a boat ride at sunset.

istanbul buildings

exterior Hagia Sophia

exterior Hagia Sophia

interior of Hagia Sophia

interior of Hagia Sophia

Doors leading into Hagia Sophia

Doors leading into Hagia Sophia

making textiles

making textiles

tram Beyoglu Istanbul

Taksim Square - site of the recent protests where Turkish police used water cannons and tear gas to clear thousands of protesters. Thousands were injured and 11 people died.

Taksim Square – site of the recent protests where Turkish police used water cannons and tear gas to clear thousands of protesters. Thousands were injured and 11 people died. In some ways it’s hard to imagine that the photos from the protests that look like they were taken in a war zone were shot here. On the other hand, the police are clear about making their presence known with big armored trucks that are more military than police parked on the streets as a reminder to all.

exterior of Topkapi Palace

exterior of Topkapi Palace

an interior shot of Topkapi Palace

an interior shot of Topkapi Palace

Views from Topkapi Palace:

view from topkapi palace 2 view from topkapi palace

giant shawarma!

That is one giant shawarma!

exterior Blue Mosque

exterior Blue Mosque

interior Blue Mosque

interior Blue Mosque

interior of Blue Mosque

interior of Blue Mosque

square near Blue Mosque

square near Blue Mosque

Check out all those bars of chocolate!

Check out all those bars of chocolate!

Pics of and from Galata Bridge:

galata bridge istanbul

galata bridge istanbul 2

fishermen istanbul

Grand Bazaar - unfortunately we lasted about 2 minutes - too many people and too much stuff!

A bad picture of the Grand Bazaar (although I like the flag!) Unfortunately we lasted about 2 minutes – too many people and too much stuff!

for sale in Grand Bazaar

for sale in Grand Bazaar

bread maker istanbul

istanbul street 2

inside the Spice Bazaar

inside the Spice Bazaar

spice bazaar istanbl

so many pretty mosques

so many pretty mosques

New Mosque Istanbul

mosque at sunset

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About Lynda

Longhorns and Camels is a blog about exploring Dubai from the perspective of an expat from Texas. It features stories about living in Dubai including descriptions of local culture and popular activities in the region. It also includes photography of the UAE and other countries abroad. It has been recommended by several well-known guides for expatriates: InterNations, ExpatWoman and Expat Focus.
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10 Responses to Istanbul, 2 shots of whisky and 1 crazy taxi driver

  1. Ha! I have been on one of those rides in Istanbul…our driver even offered to take pictures for me, as I was from the back seat…he said his would be better, his view better…I declined. He was not fast, because the traffic did not allow. But I have had some crazy Dubai taxi rides!!!

    • Lynda says:

      Oh that’s a wonderful idea – to take pictures while you’re driving someone around – haha! I thought it was endearing they way ours wanted to show off the city, but it was all a blur – literally – I did take a couple of pics from the car but all you see are streaks of light. ha! In Dubai I always just ignored what was going on in front of me b/c I figured I didn’t have any control anyway – saved me a lot of headaches 🙂

  2. Lina you are awesome writer and good managing this post and show us a way on how to get clicked images while you are driving…. that;s a good idea… and duabai is my favorite place to be go at this year….

  3. Laura says:

    Looks so much like my visit to Turkey! Great photos. Happy new year to you 🙂

  4. Diana says:

    LYN! those markets…I guess I could spend my entire week on vaca just shopping! So colorful and packed full of stuff!

    • Lynda says:

      It was definitely colorful but too overwhelming for me. It was weird b/c my friend felt exactly the same way – we seriously were in the grand bazaar for 5 minutes. It’s a shame because it would have been nice to check out the different areas (it was organized by type of thing – like leather, textiles, ceramics etc.) We spent longer in the spice bazaar b/c we bought some Turkish Delight but even then didn’t do the place justice at all!

  5. Mitzie Mee says:

    Ha ha ha..the taxi drivers in Istanbul drive like crazy! When my husband was working in Istanbul, he lived on the Asian side, and there were no airport trains from the airport I was commuting to at that time, so I always had to take a taxi from the airport. Talk about near-death experiences!

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