Traveling Alone

Traveling alone is always interesting.  It's daunting, liberating, lonely, peaceful, and introspective.  One of my favorite things about it though is the people you meet.  When you travel with a companion, you more often than not end up using them as a crutch in awkward situations, which often leads to avoiding interaction with others and being more critical of the culture you're in.  It's an easy trap to fall into.  However, when alone, you are forced to confront every situation on your own.  I can last usually about four solid days on my own with little interaction with others...more as an observer. My eight days in Istanbul was the perfect balance of alone and shared time.  I met the best people.

My colleagues had put me in contact with their friends who:
  1. Zuhat took me out to lunch at the most beautiful terrace cafe I've ever been to;
  2. Alperen took me to Prince's Island where we met up with his friends, played football, climbed to the top of a mini mountain (ok, it was a large hill) and watched the sun set over the Sea of Marmara, ate ice cream, and talked about love on the banks of the Bosphorus.  
Does it get much better than that?  Fuck.

I met a very kind Brazilian who shared a room with me at the hostel.  He was traveling t to 15 heavy metal festivals around the world.  We had nothing in common, but the love of travel.  And we spent a great day wandering around Dohmbace Palace and talking the badass factor of being a sultan.  I don't remember his name now; but we shared a good day.

That same night the two of us invited our third roommate out to dinner.  Stefan Scheiderbauer was an engineer from Koln, Germany.  He's also an amazing photographer.  We stayed up until five in the morning that night, just the two of us, talking about art and war and personal expectations.

I woke up the next morning hung over only to find out my flight to Athens had been delayed because of the riots.  So, the two of us paid about $1.50 for a three-hour ferry ride up the Bosphorus, bought socks together, and drank two beers on the steps to some parking lot while we watched Africans sell shit from suitcases (more to come on that in another post).  It was a pleasant day spent with a like-minded person.  Though we didn't do anything in particular, it was one of the more stand-out days of my trip.

A few days later Stefan sent me some of the photos he took our last days in Instanbul (see below) with the following message:

"The guy with the gun passed my way a few minutes after you left and guess what: HE WAS SELLING SHIT!! :-)

Was great fun hanging out with you in Istanbul.  Good to know that there are girls left who are drinking beer in public.  If one of your journeys leads you to Germany one day - let me know."

I guess traveling alone doesn't necessarily mean exactly that.  And this is why I love to travel "alone".

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