Visiting ‘Europe’ and Home.


The following facebook conversation took place this morning while talking to a friend.

Friend: Dude you’re in Pakistan?

Me: Yeah 😀

Friend: After only a month of college? Why?

Me: Didn’t you hear? I left Bilkent.

Friend: Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?

Me: I mean for a week! I am here for my brother’s wedding 😛

So yes. After only a week of classes at Bilkent, I am back in Pakistan. Back home. There was no way I was going to miss the first and biggest wedding of my family. You see my brother is like the superstar of the family. So people from even other countries (Saudia Arab?) have arrived to attend his long awaited wedding. Honestly I am super pumped up for it. Not only I get to see so many cousins and family members after a long time but also I get to hang out with my own friends. This is just perfect.

My total journey time from Ankara to Islamabad is around 26 hours. The reason(s) for the elongated time was my short visit to Istanbul. So I flew from Ankara to Istanbul on one of those extremely inexpensive promotional flights ($28) and had to change airports in Istanbul. The two airports in Istanbul are continents apart. And I mean literally; one is in Asia and the other in Europe. So on the way I got to hang out with my two awesome YES buddies Bilal and Zoya who came to Taksim Square just to see me.

You guys are awesome!

Zoya and Bilal
Zoya and Bilal at Taksim

Zoya is studying at a university in Istanbul so she was a cab ride away whereas Bilal (our very own global traveler) was in Istanbul because of a conference and was living in a hostel nearby. I was really glad I got to meet both of them. It’s just the sort of experience I used to envision. Sitting on a road side cafe in some foreign country and speaking your heart out to a good friend.

You can literally feel the difference between Istanbul and Ankara when you’re at one of the other places. Even though my visit to Istanbul was only for a day, I could see the high level of diversity in the city and a larger variety of people. Maybe it’s because Taksim is full of tourists. It’s definitely a bit more expensive and the weather was warmer than Ankara. However the most beautiful thing is the lakes and sea that surround the city. That exact sky blue color of the sea gives certain warmth to the overall image of Istanbul and I would die to play in one of those football fields right beside the sea. The traffic is horrendous in Istanbul. It reminded me of Los Angeles’ never moving traffic for some reason when we were stuck there for 3 hours and almost missed our flight.

Future advice for anyone travelling from Sabiha Gokcen Airport to Attaturk Airport: the best way to do this is to take the Havaş Bus from the airport. It will take you to Taksim and from there you can get on another Havaş. Total trip will cost you 23TL ($12) and depending on traffic it can take from 2.5 to even 4 hours. So make sure you have plenty of time to make the transit.

Oh and of course how can I fail to boast about visiting Europe( Read: European side of Istanbul) for the first time ever. I was expecting some sort of European welcome as soon as we crossed the Bosphorus Bridge but unfortunately the presence of something evident was missing. It is possible that I had the wrong view from the bus seat so couldn’t notice the vital differences between Asian and European parts of Istanbul.

In front of the famous Republic Monument at Taksim.
In front of the famous Republic Monument at Taksim.

Right now I am at Karachi Aiport. The Rs.100 tea was totally worth the WiFi (swear to God they won’t let me sit here without me ordering something). My next flight to Islamabad is after 4 hours; so what better to do than blog when you’re stranded at an airport. I am missing a lot of classes back in the university and they don’t even have a leave system so they will all count as absents. I depart back to Turkey on the 1st Oct and hopefully will get to see more of Istanbul this time or meet my old time school friend Humza. For now I am just super duper excited for the next 5 days of shadi food,  photographs, dances and all the attention I can get from them ‘aunties’.