Is this Istanbul?

We caught a night bus from Bucharest to Istanbul. At 4am, the bus stopped for about 30 minutes; Odin’s GPS told us that we were almost in the dead-centre of Istanbul. We weren’t sure where the actual bus station was, and the bus driver and bus host had vanished, despite all the passengers still being seated.

We decided to just get off and walk to the hostel, seeing as it was only 2.5km away. We didn’t really know much about Istanbul so wandering through dark winding alleys with nobody around at 4am was probably, in hindsight, not such a great idea. Thankfully, there were zero incidents.

We met a dog (I actually just typed ‘god’ three times instead of ‘dog’…coincidence?!) who stuck with us for the whole, dark, scary walk. He chased off at least two packs of dogs who were threatening us from down an alley. We made it safe and sound to our hostel (which I don’t recommend), where we had our breakfast then went off for a wander around Istanbul.

Istanbul is a beautiful city, but it’s huge and very very busy.

From Istanbul we caught a night bus to Göreme. After a quick snooze in our cave hostel, we went for a big walk around the Rose Valley. Or Red Valley. We weren’t very good at reading our map. The weather was closing in on us, so we stopped a few times at the various cafes scattered throughout the valley.

For the next few days the weather wasn’t the best, but we still managed to visit the sunken city and some other beautiful places.

Then, finally, came the absolute highlight. Ballooning in Cappadocia! This experience was phenomenal. None of the pictures can possibly do this beautiful place any sort of justice.

We had a wonderful time in Istanbul and Göreme. We’re so thank-ful that we got a chance to do the ballooning. It was a once in a lifetime experience and I really can’t recommend it enough.