Estimated Time: 4 Minutes
Some are born adventurous, some seek adventure, and others have adventure thrust upon them. I seem to be in the last category, as odd stories seem to follow me wherever I go. This time around, I was thrust into the adventure when I met a man on a boat whilst crossing the Bosporus straits. I had made my way to Istanbul after a month of backpacking through Turkey. I’d paraglided in the mountains, I’d skinny dipped in the Mediterranean, seen the ancient cities of yore, and seen a man get shot.
I was in dire need for something slightly less adventurous and thus I decided to take an afternoon cruise in Istanbul to see the historical sights. I wanted to sail across the sea where the Byzantines had laid a thick, iron chain to blockade enemy attackers from sailing into the ports. I also wanted to see the mountains besides it, where Sultan Mehmet II had hilariously just decided to carry the ships over to avoid the chain and naval blockade. This resulted in the conquest of Byzantium, after which the Ottomans left their indelible mark in the surrounding countryside over the following centuries.
All this and more I saw over the course of the cruise. I bought a tea, and enjoyed the view. About an hour passed, and then it was that a tall, slim, bald and tanned man came up to me and started asking me whether I knew a certain person in the UK, or whether I was in any way related to him. I was curious, so I humoured him, and said that I had no idea who he was. Why did he think that I would though? Turns out that, I supposedly bore a striking resemblance to him. In either case, we continued talking as the tour continued and the sights passed all around us.
It was then that he started telling me about how he’s been travelling the world for the last year or so. He had been tired of living and working in the rat race, and was exploring what life had on offer. As such, he decided to take his company on the road, and work from abroad. The conversation went on, and he told me about his stories. He kept talking about people whom he met abroad, alongside the adventures that ensued from meeting them, which often had a romantic bend to them. It was then that it dawned on me that he might well be a likely practising adherent of the daygame cult, as he evidently already had the knack for striking up conversation with random people.
As such, feeling as if I was a Freemason identifying a fellow member of the secret society, I asked him whether he knew about the community. He laughed, and confirmed my suspicions. Having found a fellow comrade in arms, the pretences fell away and we shared war stories with each other, highlighting both our victories and our scars. Time sailed away on this stream of thought, and our ship did so as well.
We soon arrived on the busy docks of Istanbul once more, and decided to go have tea in the marketplace. Past the winding roads, and the thousand carpet shops and spice shops, past the hustle and the bustle, we entered the Grand Bazaar. We went past the mosaic laden fountains and found a small corner, where we sat down and talked about life, the universe, and girls. As a man, as much as it pains us to admit, few topics of conversation actually change from puberty onwards. What can we say? We have our priorities straight.
The hours passed, and we agreed that we were hungry. I suggested dinner at a restaurant I’d been to. It has small dishes, meant to share with others, and you could have a wide sample of Turkish cuisine. He agreed, and thus we went to find the restaurant. Having said this, if anyone has been to Istanbul before, they will understand when I say that the city seems to have a mind of its own. Go past a couple of streets, turn around, and it will look like a completely different area. Small streets and thoroughfares seem to pop in and out of existence in the blink of an eye.
Consequently, finding our way to the locale again proved to be a nightmare. We walked, and walked but didn’t seem to find it. At some point we decided to give up, and look for an alternative. Yet, a few steps later my companion seemed to recognise something and he went down a road and off the cuff.
I followed him, and he stopped in front of an old, and run down building. After which he said it was here that he’d been dragged and mugged a couple of days ago. They’d lured him inside the building, and then they’d coerced him into withdrawing a large amount of money to give them. For some bizarre reason he wished to take photographic evidence, to warn the public, or some such reason.
I partially thought it to be a joke, so I humoured him as he took pictures. Nevertheless, it was then that deep from inside the grimy building, loud screams in Turkish were heard. I looked up, and saw that there was a security camera overlooking the street; they’d obviously noticed us giving the building an unusual amount of scrutiny. It was then that a large, fat man with a moustache materialised from the streets, as he seemed to have been summoned by the screaming. “WHO ARE YOU? WHAT DO YOU WANT?” he barks at us in English, as he sees us.
Before I’d thought of something to say to blag my way out of this thorny situation, my partner had gone running off for the hills. Not wanting to have to face the man, along with the ones that would soon would likely follow, by myself I decided to run after my friend. We didn’t know whether we were being followed, but as we ran away I could’ve sworn I heard “Yeah! You better run away” being screamed at us.
We continued running for a while, bumping into half a dozen people on the streets, and we decided to take refuge in a bookstore. We ran inside, and waited in a basement of the shop. Our palpable agitation hadn’t gone unnoticed and thus a store clerk had been sent down to keep an eye on us. In the meantime, we waited to see whether someone came running after us. A few minutes passed, and we figured that we’d evaded the danger, and we braved the streets once more.
As luck would have it, our fleeing had brought us to the right area. Istanbul, having had its laugh, seemed to have decided to bring us to the appropriate place. Before us, we had the street with the small restaurant. We laughed at the happenstance, and went inside to have dinner. Sometimes after criminals have run after you, all you can say to make sense of it all is saying “Bon Apetit” over a nice, tall glass of Ayran and laughing it off. I seem to always end up in such odd adventures, yet it’s part of the enjoyment of travel, and I think this may be the reason I like it so much…
Have you ever been in a situation where you didn’t know what would happen? How did it turn out?
In case you missed it, here’s a link to part 2 of the series
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