I Thought I Was Taken…Istanbul

Istanbul is definitely one city I will be revisiting very soon, more than likely again this year. I had the greatest experiences in Istanbul, met some interesting and fun people, had some of the best food ever, and I really enjoyed the history and modernity of the city. I have dubbed it my best trip of 2013. Thankfully I am here to boast of this amazing city, because I also had some scares while there. I can laugh about them now, but at the moment I truly thought I was reliving a scene from Taken…
Okay keep up with the story, there was a stream of events that led to my heart racing moment. I swear no matter where you go, men have egos and when that ego is bruised they can sometimes react in childish ways. I checked into my hotel a day late. I missed my connecting flight in New York. While checking in I explained what happened to the reservation agent. I asked if it were possible if I could add another night since I was unable to make my original check in. He said, “No Problem!” This was also a very small boutique hotel and I felt very safe here. The hotel staff was very personable and they always seem to look out for me especially since they knew I was traveling solo. Well, probably also because a couple of the guys were kind of smitten with me. Anyway, the reservation agent (let's just call him Smittens) offered to show me around Istanbul and I agreed to be accompanied by him. We had a wonderful night out, he showed me around Sultanahmet and took me to Taksim Square, which I absolutely fell in love with! That night when Smittens and I returned to the hotel, I told him I had a great time and thanked him for showing me around. Smittens began to babble on and on about how much he liked me and how I was so funny…and then leaned in for a kiss. Oh nooooo, no kissing! I was very nice about it, but I let him know I enjoyed the evening and thought he was really cool, but I was not interested in that way. Everything was fine after that, Smittens still spoke to me and always made sure I was doing okay.
So the following day, I met another gentlemen (we'll call him Don Juan because that's what he thought he was.) However, he was a very charming funny guy and we hit it off right away, he was very familiar with my hometown of Houston. We pretty much hung out for the whole day and later he invited me to hang out with his cousin and girlfriend. I was like sure why not. But the temperature had dropped and I wanted to swing by my hotel to throw on a pair of jeans. I told Don Juan to wait in the lobby. Instead of sitting there quietly waiting for me, Don Juan decided to tell Smittens I was his girlfriend. Don Juan was a cocky little something and had definitely stirred up some mess! Whyyyyy would this guy do that, I have no idea! From there on Smittens began to make my stay at the hotel a bit uncomfortable…actually very uncomfortable!
The following morning I received a phone call to my room from Smittens, he said I needed to move to a different room. Apparently, the room I was staying in was for a family and I needed to move to a singles room. I wasn't pleased with having to move my belongings to another room at the last minute, I was on my way out the door to do some sightseeing. No biggy, I let it go, a bellhop was sent up to help with my move. And, that was that…I least I thought. The next morning I received a knock at the door, it was the bellhop telling me it was check out time. I'm thinking no, it's not check out time. I called downstairs to Smittens asking what was going on and he said I could no longer stay in the room or in the hotel for that matter. There was a couple that was checking in and he needed my room and he didn't have another room for me to stay in. So I'm like what are you telling me, I have nowhere to stay! This guy is just going to put me out of the hotel with no warning or anything! I was livid!!! I got downstairs to the front desk, Smittens had no type of solution for my problem, his only answer was, “It was not a problem then, but now is a problem.” I'm thinking is this guy freaking kidding me, is he serious! I asked to speak with the hotel manager. I was a little nervous at this point, thinking, what if they side with each other or call the Turkish police and have me removed from the property! Luckily Smittens told the truth and said he had made an agreement that I could stay an additional night at the hotel to make up for the missed night. The manager apologized and found me another room at a sister hotel. Once again the bellhop helped me with my belongings and we rolled my things about a block away to another hotel. I got over it pretty quick, I was grateful it worked out and the new hotel was even nicer than the previous.

Liam Neeson Taken
These cobbled streets don't look so safe at night.
After allll of that, this is when things freaked me out the most! It was about three in the morning, time for me to catch my flight back home. The manager of the current hotel had already arranged for a cab to pick me up and drop me off at the Ataturk Airport. Sultanahmet has a very eerie look to it at night; ruins of buildings along the dark narrow cobbled streets. It would be so easy to drag someone down one of those alleys and no one would ever know; my imagination can run rampant at times. I am also very visual when it comes to figuring out my location and everything looked completely different at night. The driver was making so many turns, going up and down hills I had the slightest idea where we were. Finally, we made it out of the Sultanahmet neighborhood and I realized we were on the main road to the airport. About halfway into the drive, the cab driver received a phone call. He spoke in Turkish a few words and made a sharp, quick U-turn. What the hell, I'm thinking! My heart rate shoots up immediately! I ask him where are we going, he barely responds, mumbling something in Turkish. I ask again where are we going! I know the airport is in the opposite direction. He says nothing, he just keeps driving speedily ahead. It is dark and there is not a soul out. I'm thinking Oh God please don't let him take me! I'm telling myself to relax, he doesn't want me, I'm in my thirties, they want younger girls to sell! Then I think of my getaway! I could jump out the car, I'll hurt myself, but I won't die! Okay that's how I'll escape, I'm going to go for it! As I have my head bowed praying for God's mercy, I look up and we are back at my hotel. The manager is standing outside on the curb with my Ipad in his hand. I had left my Ipad in the nightstand next to my bed. The manager was kind enough to call the cab driver to come back, so he could deliver my Ipad to me. With all the events that happened earlier, I just felt this would be the icing on the cake. I thought this could be it, I thought I was a goner, I thought…I Was Taken in Istanbul!
Lol… how's that guys for a bunch of crazy random events! I learned a lot on this trip…1. To never break my rules. 2.Be careful of whom I invite to my hotel. 3. Men can be very vindictive emotional creatures, be aware of this. 4. I need to stop watching so many dramatic and horror themed movies!
Question, have you guys had any moments that had you shook? Let's hear some of these travel horror stories!
As always guys thanks for reading!
Pamilla The SoloTravelMuse

3 thoughts on “I Thought I Was Taken…Istanbul

  1. I really don’t think age makes a difference. I know plenty of people that started at a very young age traveling solo. A lot of those people started traveling right after college, a much needed break and reward for all the school over the years lol. I can reassure you that my situations in Istanbul were not the normal. Those were incidents that I brought on myself, choosing to hang out with random strangers and I bruised some male egos along the way. So please don’t be discouraged with my write up. I say chose a destination and research that place and then go! You’ll never be completely prepared for what comes your way, so you have to just get out there. The more you travel, the more experience you will gain. Even some of the most seasoned solo travelers make mistakes. As I was telling another reader, a hostel is always a great place to stay on your first solo trip, that way you’ll be able to hang with those in your hostel. Also I love staying in places that are hosted by someone from the place that I am visiting, they can be very helpful. Airbnb is a wonderful site that can accommodate. I hope to hear about your solo adventures. Thank you so much for reading!

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