Codie joins Ticket To The World
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The idea sprung up all the way back in Kos, Greece. If both Lasse and I weren’t the winners of ticket to the world we would make our way back through Europe to London. The catch was we didn’t have enough money for a plane ticket, or pretty much anything that required money. We were to hitchhike our way through the multitude of countries until eventually arriving at our final destination. Having said goodbye to all the friends we made from EBS Kos we set about this monumental endeavour early on a Friday morning. We had tried previously to see if we could get a ride on a boat down at the local harbour but everyone we asked looked at us with a strange look on their faces and politely said “No”.
As this didn’t work we had to fork out what little money we had to buy a ferry ticket from Kos. This would prove to be the last time we had to pay for transport for the whole journey. Looking back at Kos as the ferry left the harbour, we couldn’t help but remember all the memories we made and all the new friends we had met through EBS. Kos had been one crazy adventure that will stay with us for a very long time. But a new adventure was unfolding between Lasse and I, one that would test our resolve and also our luck.
Arriving in Bodrum we made a quick plan of what we had to do: food first, then we start hitchhiking. There is one meal that will forever remind me of my Turkey experience and that is a Nutella, Peanut Sandwich. It was our staple meal for the stay in Turkey it was simple to make and hit all the right buttons and most importantly it was very cheap.
Walking for less than an hour we found the perfect place to start hitchhiking, there was a lot of traffic and someone was bound to give us a ride. An hour had passed and no luck, people were only looking at us as they drove by, occasionally smiling and waving. Although a nice gesture it wouldn’t get us anywhere. We decided to use our newly acquired flair skills from EBS to put on a little show for the cars driving by in the hope someone would notice and pick us up.
Nobody willing to stop unless you put on a show[/ebs_redbox]
And it proved to be true eventually, although we never caught his name. We pointed on the map and he nodded and started to drive. Lasse and I looked at each other with a grin from ear to ear and jumped in the car. He only drove us to small town just outside of Bodrum but it was a start and it gave us confidence maybe this was possible. No body believed we could do it and we were going to prove them wrong!
Now that we had our first hitchhike under our belt our confidence was at an all time high and we were ready to get as far as we could. And it proved to be the city of Izmir. We arrived at around dusk and we needed to find a place to sleep that didn’t cost anything, Luckily enough I had packed a 2 man tent with me and this proved to be invaluable for our stay in Turkey. We walked a little bit around Izmir before we decide on a park, it wasn’t ideal but it would do. So we set about making the tent as people were walking past us with confused faces. Setting up camp for the night it was time to get some sleep and be ready for the next day.
An early start greeted us and a long day of hitchhiking was ahead of us. Having multiple people pick us up and drive a little distance to the next town or even a random place on the side of the road, we came across 2 guys who would drive us for 3 hours and even buy Lunch. Although they didn’t speak English we improvised and used a Turkish-English dictionary to communicate as best as we could. It was definitely a roller coaster of a day and having been driven so far Lasse and I were at our most confident… this was really happening we were hitchhiking through Turkey! But all this confidence started to wane after 4 hours of waiting for someone to pick us up. We had almost given up when a truck driver stopped and waved us over.
Bursa sunset – the freaks come out![/ebs_redbox]
We made it to the final destination of the day Bursa it wasn’t the best time to arrive in the city as the sun was going down and in such a big city we needed to find a place that was safe. This proved to be a very difficult thing to achieve walking for 2 hours we finally came upon a little park next to the side of the road. We set up the tent behind a billboard sign and were only 10 metres from a main road. But the billboard and the night shielded us from people. It was decided that it would be a good idea to get up early so no one would notice us as they drove by. It was an interesting sleep a pack of dogs circled the tent and barked for over an hour. Until strangely we heard whistling and then the dogs running off. We woke up at sunrise to begin day 3 of the adventure. We walked for 2 hours before getting our next ride and we were dropped off at small town where Lasse and I looked at the map we had bought and decided that it would be quicker to get to Yalova and get a ferry to Istanbul.
This is where our luck truly turned for the best although we waited for 2 hours on the side of the road until we were eventually picked up by Erkan who than told us he was heading to Istanbul. We couldn’t believe our luck! His English was the best we had heard so far in Turkey and we talked about many things on our drive to Yalova, he had travelled a lot through his business and he had been in our situation many times when he was younger. We arrived in Yalova and we started talking about our plan on making it all the way to London but it would be nice to spend a little bit of time in Istanbul. We told him we recently finished an EBS course and that we would like to bartend in Istanbul to save some money.
He listened intently to our story and then he told us he had many contacts in Istanbul so getting a job would be no problem and he would let us sleep at his house, which was located on the European side of Istanbul. Not believing our luck we thanked Erkan profusely and boarded the ferry to Istanbul. it was around a 2 hour ride before we spotted the vastness of city unfolding before us. I have been to some big cities but I couldn’t fathom just how big the city was, it stretched as far as the eye could see.
The start of life in Istanbul dawned on Lasse and I, we were going to live in Istanbul and work. We arrived at Erkans place and were given a quick tour of his house and where we would be sleeping, it proved to be his balcony. We would end up sleeping here for the next month. The next few days flew by, we explored as much as we could of the city, trying all the exotic food we could find. Until one day Erkan told us he had found work for us. and that very same day we took a taxi to the bar and a long the way Erkan taught us how to count to 10 in Turkish and a few basic greetings and goodbyes.
We arrived at the Restaurant Bar called Cur Curna and while Erkan was talking to the owners, Lasse and I took in the amazing view of Istanbul as the bar was located next to the Bosphorus. Suddenly the conversation turned from Turkish to English and we were told we started the next week. It was the easiest job interview I have ever had, and now we had a job in Istanbul. And not entirely sure how the language barrier would affect our ability to work behind a bar. We took in the last few days of being free from work and then before we knew it was time to start working.
Enjoying a quick coffee during a 5-minute break – no sweat![/ebs_redbox][/zilla_one_half]
We arrived at the bar excited to start a new chapter in the adventure. Ready to see what it would be like working in a foreign country knowing nothing of the language. The first day was an induction on the bar and how things worked. .So many new names and words, the day quickly passed, all 15hours of it. Over the next few days of work we learnt more and more Turkish, and making new friends. The bar hosted dancing classes during the weekdays, ranging from Salsa to a type of swing dance called Jitterbug. The Bar was broken up into two sections; a lounge like upstairs bar and club/dance studio downstairs, there was always something new and exciting happening at Cur Cuna.
It was truly a humbling experience knowing that for a lot of people working 14-16 hours a day was a normal thing to do. Each week followed this formula with a splash of sight seeing mixed between our days off, you really begin to appreciate time when you have very little spare. The experience in whole was amazing, we met some great people who shaped our experience into something truly fantastic. Each person we worked with left a mark on Lasse and I for the better. And before we knew it we had spent a month living and working in Istanbul. And thats when I heard the news.
Before I started work one day I sent a message to Jesper and and Skye asking them how the journey with the Ticket to the World was going and also filling them in on how my experience was so far. We had all formed a strong friendship during our time in Kos and we kept in contact when we could. But this day would prove to be different, Skye had found her dream job in London and as much as she wanted to continue on the amazing adventure she couldn’t turn the job down. I spent the next few hours sending messages back and forth until eventually they told me I was going to receive a call from EBS in the next few days letting me know I would be chose to replace her. The world had turned on its head when I heard this, I was beginning my life in Istanbul ready to spend a few months living and working there and then suddenly this was thrown into my lap.
Of course I was going to accept but I had to let Lasse know what had happened, if he was going to stay and continue or move on to London. He decided on the latter it was time we both left Istanbul, it had been good to us but it had to come to an end. That night would prove to be our last time working in Istanbul, we wanted to take the next few days off and explore the city even more and enjoy what it had to offer. Our time living in a tent thankfully had to come to an end, and we had to break the news to Erkan. After all he made this all possible and given us the best chance at making a life in the city. He was of course happy for us but sad that we couldn’t experience Turkey more. As a final gift for us he organised us to stay at a hotel for a very good price, so we could sleep in comfort for the last few nights in Istanbul.
Packing up all of our clothes and finally the tent which had been our home for the last month we said our goodbyes to a truly great person and promised one day we would be back. But it was time for us to leave, Lasse heading to London and I to Barcelona to meet Jesper. The last few days proved to be uneventful as Istanbul also gave us one last gift… a nice case of food poisioning. Being confined to our beds for the next two days until eventually it was time for me to leave early in the morning and Lasse to leave later in the afternoon. I woke up at 4 am and quietly got ready and than said goodbye to Lasse wishing him a safe journey, and who knows maybe I will meet him in London when I am there.
And thus the chapter that was Turkey comes to an end and I start on a trip of a lifetime with another good friend. Very much looking forward to what Ticket to the World has to offer, first stop… Barcelona!