Through the title it will not take a an expert to realise this will likely be a rant of an article and you would be right. I’ll add that this is not going to be rant about the whole of Turkey, nor Turkish Airlines (they will get their own article), but more my night in Istanbul
So, it snows in Istanbul
Apparently it does not usually snow in Istanbul, even in January, so a freak snow storm in March is just that a “freak”, it would though lead to be staying at the Sheraton Atakoy Hotel. There are two Sheratons in Istanbul I was to find out, one on the centre of town, one in the boonies, I was in the boonies.
Turkish Airlines had magnanimously, or rather legally provided me with meals, very sub-standard ones might I add, rice meat and water, not prison food, not great, but quite sufficient.
Usually in these situations, or at least in my old life I would have just hung at the hotel, but having not traveled for two years and having a business partner marrying an Istanbul girl I was cajoled into going out to explore. Oh I also really like a good kebab!
In the interests of a link and the coverage we’ve been getting lately here’s Lets Buy an Island.
Let’s start with Uber
Using Uber during a snowstorm in Istanbul….
I fucking hate Uber, perhaps I am bias because my dad was a London Taxi driver, perhaps I am also hypocritical because I love Grab taxi, BUT Uber are just one of those companies that have just bad brand recognition. They seem shit and deliver on shit mostly. They are rent crook.
Anyhow I was told to use Uber in Istanbul and was told that I would end up with a regular taxi. What actually happened was whenever I tried to book a ride I was either told “no card” or messaged with a different price. Uber does not work here as an actual booking engine it works like a pimp, but with the ho collecting all the overpriced cash. Who wants to live in a world like that?
So, Uber one was supposed to take me to the best donna kebab place in town only to see snow and drop me 15 minutes walk away. Did I mention snow? Well I was wearing a t-shirt. Can’t blame Uber Turkey for that, but the implication was I was being dropped next door.
To read about taxi apps in Cambodia click here.
The $50 hamburger and hash, but no beer…..
The only available place I could see was a rooftop “bar” blaring music. I surmised that it may have a kebab and beer, or better still rakia.
To read about rakia in Albania click here.
So, I go up the old school doorless elevator to be greeted by a shisha bar. Despite being a smoker I do not like shisha, I have nothing against it just not my thing. I sit down scour the menu and the only thing of vague interest was a cheeseburger. I ordered with a coke, but got a Pepsi. They are not the same.
To read about North Korean coke click here.
I asked for a beer and was told no, ok no issues. I asked for a phone charger and was given a coin operated box. I could charge my phone, but I had to pay. OK, so be it. And then they approached me hush hush and asked if I wanted special shisha – The implication being hash. I said “no thanks but do you have rakia”. Turkish rakia is a bit like Ouzo. I was looked at like a mad man and told “we do not serve alcohol”. Right…….hash is OK though.
Burger was shit and I left.
Snow boarding in Istanbul
OK, so this was the one plus point of the night. I saw some young lads filling a bag with snow and decided to watch. Turned out they were sledding, I watched for a bit and then joined in. Great fun, but by the the end I could barely feel my feet.
I then looked at a Mosque, before deciding it was time to head back to the Sheraton and towards Bedfordshire! I found a kiosk to hide from the snow and booked an Uber, or so I though. A journey to my hotel should have cost 100 ($6) at best, the guy asked for 200, I said 150, all good.
The guy at the kiosk then got angry I was in his kiosk despite the fact I was wearing a t-shirt in a blizzard. I bought some vodka he shut up. Uber arrived took me to the wrong hotel. The central Sheraton, big argument, some threats of violence I give him a hundred and go into Sheraton.
The next 30 minutes were duly spent booking Uber’s only to have them cancel on me after I refused to pay 4-5 times the going rate. By the end I would have paid anything, but no one replied.
Eventually I got a cab, which turned out to be driven by an honest old man. He did though stop the cab every time a kid threw a snowball at the cab, which was every 10 minutes. I admired greatly how he would reverse and tell the kids off. But it was a very surreal experience.
On arrival the big was 136 Lira, I gave 200 and was tempted to take 50 back, but in the end was like fuck it take the lot.
Net result a $50 hamburger, when ironically there was a shop literally called “Street Food” 5 minutes walk from my hotel.
Lessons learned? Turkish Airlines suck, Uber Turkey suck and when you are gifted a 5 star hotel stay in said hotel. Don’t go chasing culture especially when there’s a pool and Robocop on the TV, even if it is the shit remake.
Will I be going back to Turkey?
We live in a funny world when it comes to racism, so you have to be very careful what you say. I will say this. I live in a country (Cambodia) that is constantly voted one of the friendliest in the world, some places will always be more friendly than others. I have been to Turkey twice, neither time did I enjoy it.
It was fun seeing snow though…..