For an eternity, I’ve dreamt about cooling off in a hamam, having real Turkish pide & shisha on a rooftop cafe, hot ballooning over the caves of Cappadocia, having Turkish tea with the locals, catching some sun on the Medditeranian coast, placing one foot in Europe & the other in Asia, traversing the Black Sea coast, and falling in love with the half ancient half modern city of Istanbul. The closest I’ve been to Turkey so far is Arab street in Singapore, and I’m pretty sure that even with its rustic ambiance, carpet shops, and late night shisha cafes, it doesn’t come close.
Luckily for me, the universe has conspired yet again to grant my travel wishes, and this time it has manifested itself in the form of Turkey’s national carrier, Turkish Airlines!
That’s right, I’m going to Turkey on a round trip sponsored by Turkish airlines. The awesome people at the awesome airlines held an awesome Twitter contest and with my awesome answers (I assume), I won this awesome prize. They have many more contests & deals lined up, if you want to try your luck too. You are following them, aren’t you?
It wasn’t all that simple. It involved hours of hope & hopelessness. It involved brooding over my own answers and those of others. It involved stalking Turkish Airlines every tweet. It involved sitting up in the middle of the night, wondering what if I won, followed by a dejecting analysis of my chances. I shut my twitter minutes before the result was announced; the anxiety was that high, that much was at stake. When I calmed myself to go back online, I was flooded with congratulatory tweets, and this!
A week later, I have the tickets in my hand, a pretty cool Turkiye visa stamp on my passport (worth the grueling 2 hour wait at the embassy), and starry dreams of the middle east in my head.
And if that isn’t enough awesomeness, Roomorama has offered to sponsor my first two nights stay in Istanbul. Incase you haven’t heard of them, Roomorama is an online marketplace of sorts, where travellers can connect with owners of rooms, apartments & houses for short term stays in all major cities; it’s a refreshing alternative to budget (and medium / high end) hotels and if you seek interaction with the local people like I do, you’ll probably love it.
I’ll be staying with Turkish hosts in Istanbul, at what sounds like a quaint, charming heritage property close to the historic centre of the city. It took me two days of browsing on Roomorama to pick a place to stay, because each sounds more tempting than the next.
So for the next 3 weeks, I’ll wander along the confluence of the east and west, treat my taste buds to (vegetarian) Turkish delicacies, pamper myself with Turkish baths, and ignite my love for the mountains along the Black Sea coast.
If you think you’ll miss me (won’t you?), travel with me virtually to Turkey on Facebook & Twitter, and keep coming back here to read about adventures I haven’t yet shared, powered by WordPress’ scheduling feature =)
Have you been or want to go to Turkey? What places would you want me to check out?
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I’m the founder of this award-winning travel blog about offbeat and sustainable travel, and author of the bestselling travel memoir, The Shooting Star.
In 2011, I quit my full-time job, and gradually gave up my home, sold most of my possessions, stored some in the boot of a friend’s car and embraced a nomadic life.
Connect with me on Instagram to hear more about my adventures and personal journey.