Should I call it luck or destiny?

Should i call it luck or destiny-So I was meant to be traveling to Europe this week, and things just didn’t work in my favour for this awaited trip of the year which included attending Tomorrowland on my birthday.
I can’t explain how excited I was for this trip, and on Friday evening I realise my visa was still being processed at the embassy, to be honest I was pretty upset and panicking considering I was meant to fly on Monday afternoon. There was no way I was going to be able to leave on Monday without my visa.
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Being pretty mindf*cked, I could barely sleep that night cause missing my trip was the only thing playing at the back of my head, all the imaginations of what I would be doing during my vacation was just not allowing me to sleep. And obviously at 3 am, social media is your best company. I opened twitter and read about the Military Coup in Turkey and the airport had been shut down, men dressed in their uniforms were all of the streets and there was complete chaos, and it struck me that damn I was flying Turkish Airlines and had 15 hours to explore Istanbul one of my favourite cities, I was taken back with what was happening and wondered if the coincident of not getting my visa in time was a good thing or not.
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Knowing the stubborn me, I would yet board the flight to Istanbul irrespective of what was happening, not cancel my holiday and have my family and friends worry about me. Obviously traveling while there are political turmoil happening is probably not a wise decision to travel. This is when I thought about me probably be lucky or destined of not being able to travel and risk my life.

Whining and mourning over my trip went on for the weekend, Monday I got an update from the airline that they started operating normally, but my visa hadn’t arrived yet so it didn’t help. Where as on the other hand my parents were quite relieved that I wouldn’t be flying during these dramatic situations.

But, I guess there is something I learnt from this experience, which I would like to share with you’ll.

Apply for your Visa at least one month in advance:
It’s peak season for European holidays, and just to get everything done in time its advisable to apply for your visa a month in advance, sometimes it could take upto three weeks to process it, I was hoping to get mine in two weeks clearly it didn’t work in my favour.

Travel insurance is important:
Irrespective of where you’re traveling, getting travel insurance is essential. I mean, the Istanbul incident for me was quite unexpected, having travel insurance would recover my expense to a certain extent, missing flights can happen cause of multiple reasons and being insurance the probability of being backed is pretty good.

Flexible booking could be helpful:
I made another mistake of booking non-refundable flights, I mean just imagine if I made a flexible booking, I would be able to re-book my flights to another date by paying a small difference when my visa would arrive, here I have no choice but get notifications of the plane taking off without me. I know sometimes, flexible booking comes with an extra price but if you’re a last minute planner like me its better to do a flexible booking rather being stuck like I am.

Booking.com can be a saviour:
Luckily for me, most of my hostel and hotel bookings were done on booking.com I could do free cancellations for my hostels in Budapest, Prague and Amsterdam for no charges. I mean it would hurt me to pay for absolutely nothing. This cancellation facility they provide is actually helpful, and besides you can get good deals as well.

Lastly, don’t be depressed:
I know, its hard to deal with your dream holiday being called off after having it all planned, but being depressed and constantly whining about it wouldn’t help much(take it from my experience). Rather try and bare minimum loss by speaking to airlines and hotel bookings for refunds, once that’s in place start planning another adventure. Maybe this trip wasn’t meant to be for me but I’ll soon be on the road on another trip, exploring a different city and hoping for it to be even better than I would’ve planned or imagined.

 

10 Tips to get around Istanbul

Istanbul is one of my favorite cities, its got the perfect balance for a cultural experience and to ball out! This city is a fusion of Asia and Europe as it’s the one city in the world spread over two continents, which makes it even more interesting. I personally think it’s a modern Islamic country, even compared to Dubai, I feel Istanbul was culturally forward. For instance, I was walking down Taksim square while the evening prayers were on, I walked a little further from the mosque and see a street filled with loud, vibrant bars and pubs. That’s when it occurred to me that Istanbul is culturally forward, a reason why it attracted more tourism. But, like every big city Istanbul has its pros and cons, out of my personal experiences a few tips to get around Istanbul.

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Use Public Transport
Try using public transport over taxis, I have had couple of awful experiences with taxi drivers in Istanbul. From being ripped off and paying double the fare, to not getting my change of 80 Lira back, well I did get it back but I literally had to threaten the driver saying I would call the police if I didn’t get my change. Ugghh, to avoid this I would suggest of trying public transport like their trams and metros. If you want to take the cab make sure you pay according the meter.

Walking is the key
Walk, walk, walk! So when you’re around the city doing the touristy bit, walking is essential, everything is not too far away especially the historical places like the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Archeology museum are all within a miles radius.

Take the Bosphorus Cruise
If you want to go explore the Asian side of Istanbul, the fasted and a fun way to get there would be by taking the Bosphorus cruise which will take you to the other end of the of the river towards the Asian side. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to go explore that part of the city, but from what I have been told a lot of gypsies reside on the Asian side and its like the suburbs of the big city.

Live Centrally 
While deciding on where to stay, there are two central locations you could stay in, Taksim is more of a young, vibrant, party and shopping area with a lot of hotels located around there, easy transport. Apart from this, the other central location would be Sulatanahemad, which is right by the historic and tourist attraction.

Ignore the stares
Istanbul is pretty safe, but it’s not an ideal destination for solo female travels in my opinion. Turkish men are attractive, I won’t deny that BUT they can get creepy with constant stares and shamelessly rolling their eyes up and down. I would suggest have a friend along to go with in Istanbul or just ignore those eyes rolling up and down if you’re traveling alone.

Use the local currency Lira
While shopping, eating at a café or even for taxi fares you may encounter people asking you to pay in Euros, Pounds or Dollars. DO NOT pay them in any of those currencies, use the local currency Lira for anything. It’s cheaper and there are fewer chances of being cheated.

Get evil eye souviners
Ladies, get your self the most exotic evil eye jewellery from Turkey, they do it the best, its affordable and looks beautiful. It’s probably the best souvenir you would take back from your trip. I was broke and yet managed to bargain a good deal for my evil eyes. Besides this, you will be lost in the grand bazaar seeing beautiful turkish lamps and cutlury.

Indulge in Turkish Teas & Delights 
So if you’re a staple espresso or a latte drinker, I would suggest on skipping Turkish coffee, its thick, dense and a muddy texture. Rather indulge in Turkish teas, they’re aromatic and rich in flavor. My personal favorite was the jasmine, rose and peppermint teas.

Early Sunday shopping
On a Sunday most places would shut down a bit early than usual, around 7 most local stores would be calling it a day, if you have shopping plans on a Sunday evening going start early, plus during early hours of the day you could bargain a good deal for yourself.

Arrive early at the Blue Mosque
For most people the first thing to do one their list in Istanbul is visit the Blue Mosque, I don’t blame you its beautiful. Tips for the blue mosque would be, its open from 9am to 4pm only, there is no entry fee, but go early as there is always an hour-long queue. For girls avoid wearing shorts or leggings while visiting the Mosque, they will give scarfs to cover your head and if yours in shorts a long cloth to drape yourself. There are chances they may refuse entering the Mosque if you are inappropriately dressed, so keep this in mind before going to the Mosque.

Turkey Trails 

 A spontaneous holiday turns out to be one of the best holidays. If you’re holiday criteria is having a balance between culture and partying, Istanbul would be a perfect fit. It’s a city building a bridge between two continents, Asia and Europe divided by the Bosphorus river, a cultural afternoon to a wild night. Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey, often mistake to be the capital. This city oozes exquisiteness of history and civilisation and a thriving edge to modern developments. To explore the city entirely could take you couple of days, but is definitely worthwhile as you’ll find multiple layers of history and character where this is an Arab and European influence making this destination unique. Unlike other Islamic cities, Istanbul is very modern and international, attracting tons of tourists each year. There’s a story to every place in the city, starting from The Hagia Sophia to the 500 years old grand bazaar or the spice market. And of course, the blue mosque cannot be missed, however there’ll always be an hour long wait to get into the mosque.


On a bright sunny day, taking the Bosphorus cruise would be ideal, getting a glimpse of the Asian and European side.


For a cheap but a fun night out, Taksim square, is the perfect place to be at. A long street with lots of bar lined up one after another, good music and a chilled vibe to the place is the best way to end a long day in Istanbul.


Turkish delights, the dark muddy coffee (something I didn’t personally like) but l loved the Turkish teas, baklava filled with pistachios and topped with fresh cream was my favourite, for all the meat lovers you’re in for a treat when it comes for Turkish food.


Well, there is a downside to Istanbul, the weather being quite chilly and unpredictable rain, but that shouldn’t be stopping anyone from exploring this iconic city. Besides this, taxi drivers in Turkey are big a scam, they’d charge exorbitant prices for the shorter distance, rig their meters, or play with currencies (fool tourists with Liras and Euros). Hence, always try and use public transport available, or insist on the taxi driver to keep the meter on and pay that price only.


Overall, Istanbul is a beautiful city, with a vibrant atmosphere and so much to explore. I’m already planning my next trip to Istanbul, get started and plan your next holiday!