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The long journey to Istanbul
Written by Ammar Hammad   
Wednesday, 11 June 2008 21:14

 On the road to Istanbul

Early this morning, we left Alanya, a town that most of us never heard of  before but came to love. The good times we had in the town along with our Finnish friends will stay in the memory for years to come.

The distance between Alanya and our next destination Istanbul is 800km, clearly not a short stroll. We had to leave at the crack of dawn to make it before nightfall. It was an enjoyable drive - the scenery and the weather were perfect to say the least.

Once we started to get closer to Istanbul, the traffic got slower and slower until it reached a complete halt. We learnt later, while we were stretching our legs in the middle of the highway and mingling with other drivers, that there had been an accident on the bridge that separates that city's Asian and European sections and traffic had to be stopped in order to clear it. 

An hour or so later, we started moving again and headed to our hotel while mesmerised by the beautifully lit grand mosques scattered around the city. The trip took 12 hours, thanks to Ali and David who made the long ride seem shorter with their excellent driving skills.

We checked in at our hotel and left soon after to have dinner. Turkey was playing Switzerland in the European Cup soccer tournament and everybody was on edge because the score was 1-1 heading into injury time. As we got up to leave, Turkey scored its second goal and everybody - Turkish and tourists - were jumping in joy. Even police cars turned on their sirens to celebrate the win. 

Right there and then we felt at home. We're looking forward to visiting Istanbul's historic sights tomorrow.