‚Surely we won’t be bothering anybody if we set up camp for the night in this deserted area?‘ we think, settling down in an enchanted forest. Turns out we’re in for quite a night.
Reaching a destination fills you with pride. Arriving somewhere fills you with joy.
The blaring horn of a ferry, the squealing rails of a tram, wild laughter, screeching seagulls, the distant chant of a muezzin: we are here, we are in Istanbul. The former Constantinople greets us with its exciting mixture of a modern big city and cultural heritage. Driving into the city of the thousand mosques is a real thrill as the main traffic rule seems to be „May the stronger one win.“ It turns out that, after a bit of training, we don’t come off so badly with our Jeep. As the traffic shows, the people in Istanbul are not only very energetic and lively, they are also most friendly and exude a vibrant energy.
To us, arriving in Istanbul also means returning to the civilized world, reaching our destination and the end of our tour. From here, we will turn around and head back home. After almost three thousand kilometers through Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria…we have reached our destination.
We get a nice room in a hostel close to the Galata Tower. Even before we move into our room, we set off to explore. We reach the spice market. Suddenly we are in a big crowd of people and surrounded by countless unfamiliar scents. We end our day with a cup of coffee.
The sun is shining softly and the salty smell of the sea is in the air. We are standing on the Galata Bridge, which spans the Bosphorus and watch the fishermen luffing their rods.
Istanbul is exceptional. No other city is able to captivate you in such a short amount of time. With about ten million inhabitants, Istanbul is situated on both sides of the Bosphorus Strait, where the two continents of Asia and Europe meet.
The former Constantiople looks back at a three thousand-year-old history and with that, is one of the oldest cities in the world. The Ottoman architecture and the diversity of inhabitants shape the cityscape as much as the open and hospitable treatment of visitors.
Slender minarets and countless domes dominate the picture of this city. There’s an exuberant street life in the alleys, and fishing boats, freighters and ferries are relentlessly crossing between the European and Asian shores.
Istanbul is brimming with a myriad of destinations worth seeing. Although the Blue Mosque is overcrowded, it’s nonetheless magnificent and absolutely worth a visit! We all agree that we like mosques a lot more than we would have anticipated. The huge halls with elaborately decorated walls, that, without a hierarchy, are all wonderful to look at, have their own special appeal. To us, there seems to be much more room here for one’s own thoughts compared to Christian churches with their altars, pictures and figures.
In Istanbul, very many people are currently homeless. Most of them are refugees from Syria. Expelled, or having fled out of fear of inhumane conditions, they have settled in the streets and in the parks. They live in cardboard boxes. We are particularly shocked that there are so many begging children. Giving them money is not the right help. We were able to witness more than once how older children, the ones that were stronger, instantly took the money away from the younger ones. Since we no longer want to support the obviously organized begging, we buy the children something to eat.
Something wonderful happens after you give a five-year old beggar some food. Not only do his eyes shine, but he immediately walks over to his friends to share with them. The joy on the litte faces while they are stuffing their hungry mouths with some food is a gift back to us.
With Istanbul, we have reached the self-appointed highlight of our tour. Being at the end of our path, having reached our destination – doesn’t mean we’re at the end of our journey. We don’t only mean that we are now off again on our way home.
The attitude that it’s the moment that counts, that we have to listen and look around, is something we want to preserve forever.
Meeting new people, getting to know them, that’s what life is about. Breaking away from your routine in order to find yourself again is a ritual we want to keep up. Going new ways. Thinking of a new tour. All four of us want to set off again together because what could be better than experiencing a new adventure with the people who are dear to you? There’s no specific tour planned yet. But there are interesting destinations everywhere.
Well, see you next time!
Yours, Jonas, Lucas, Robin and Peter
Want to learn more? Come check out the official Offroad-to-Istanbul website!
We are raffling off 5 copies of the beautiful print magazine about the journey!
Just leave a comment beneath this mini-episode by October 31, 2015, and tell us where your dream roadtrip should take you.
The winners will be drawn by lot. Good luck! :)