Finding Familiarity In Sultanahmet, Istanbul – Turkey Gets A Bit Smaller

So, where were we? A continuation of a tale from the last post. You may remember, we were at Meltem Pension in Kaş and singing its praises – deservedly so – but the story we want to continue with today is this running theme that has threaded its way through our ten years of living in Turkey: People know each other in Turkey and you become a part of it. This little tale is but one small example of what we mean.

If you remember, we were chatting to the owner of Meltem Pension and he said he was friends with people who work for V-Go in Fethiye. So are we. Now, when we went to see our friend at V-Go Guesthouse, we were shown round by someone who we later had a few drinks with and became Facebook friends with, as you do. Never thought anything else of it.

Galata Bridge, Istanbul, Turkey

Walking to Sultanahmet over Galata Bridge

Fast forward to November 2013 when we go to Istanbul for the Istanbul Marathon. We’ve been on the bus all night, walked from Taksim over to Sultanahmet (stopping for a second breakfast of hamsi ekmek en route), and now we’re in Sultanahmet, looking for our hotel. And we’re looking and looking…

We know it’s by the sea and we think we can see our hotel but there’s no entrance through the city walls. Frustrating. We turn back and go through one of the gates. Restoration work means we can’t go down the street we think we need. We take another street – dead end. We’ve got rucksacks and aching legs…and tetchiness is creeping in.

We stop to ask someone. 3rd street on the left he says. Off we go – only to find that’s the street where the restoration of old Ottoman dwellings is taking place. We can’t go down there! How do we get to our hotel? We trudge up a ridiculously steep hill, get nowhere and turn round again. “Oh, let’s just ask in this travel agency, here.” So we open the door and go inside…

Before Travel, Sultanahmet, Istanbul

Before Travel Agency In Istanbul

The guy behind the desk looks up. Unbelievable.

“Hi guys. We saw you walk past before. How are you? Do you want çay?”

This is the guy who showed us around V-Go Guesthouse in Fethiye and who is friends with our friend and her husband. We had heard they’d left Fethiye and opened a travel agency in Istanbul…but Istanbul’s a big city. Of course we want çay. We’re tired, a bit cold and although we know our hotel is nearby, it feels untouchable right now. We sit down and start chatting. They call our hotel for us. 4th road on the left, not 3rd. We talk about our friends (they’re living in Australia now) and then we say we were in Kaş, at Meltem pension, three weeks earlier.

“Yeah, Adnan is our friend. We’re all friends from Demre.” Go figure! And that’s Turkey for you. We stumble into two random places in Kaş and Istanbul…and we all either know each other or know the same people.

Before Travel Agency, Sultanahmet: Useful Information

  • Before Travel Agency is on Akbıyık Caddesi, No 96/A, Sultanahmet
  • They’re really friendly guys and know their stuff – so pop in to see them if you’re in Sultanahmet – they arrange tours all over Turkey as well as in Istanbul and even do tailor-made ones
  • If you’re not in Istanbul, they’re online, too, with a website showing what they offer. Click this link for their website: Before Travel Turkey
  • And of course, they’ve got a Facebook page, too: Before Travel Turkey on Facebook

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  1. Amazing how often this tale is repeated around Turkey – not much chance of a naughty weekend away and keeping it quiet, is there?

  2. We all call Baltimore Smalltimore because of stories like this, and that everyone knew everyone else’s, like, sister in college. Istanbul resists a similar pun but I have had experiences too, in that city of 17 million people, that make you wish there were a stronger word than coincidence. (mental note for future googling, surely the Germans have one.)

  3. How fun! Life really is a small world sometimes! We’ve had fun in Poland and Berlin now when we’ve met other Turks – not anyone who knows somebody we know yet. But they’re always shocked when we speak Turkish to them and tell them all the places we visited in Turkey! 🙂

  4. We used to have many of those casual encounters in Turkey – even with people we knew from Denmark – But I’ve always put it down to the special magic of Sultanahmet. (It never happened in Basiktas or Kadikoy). Happy New Year.

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