Istanbul has been a blip on my travel destinations radar for many years now, and the thought of going there for the Mongol Rally had me really excited. Istanbul, Turkey! Oh my gosh! Oh, this would be the best time ever (don’t you love how I hype things up? Man, I should stop doing that!).

Navigating Charlie through Istanbul was a nightmare. The city is a chaotic mess, and naturally, Google maps was totally wrong on which streets were one way; which made things a bit intense when we first arrived. There was cars and people everywhere!

Shortly after crossing the bridge to Galata (a neighborhood in Istanbul) we got into a minor accident. Charlie was trying to turn right (at my suggestion), and a white car hit the passenger side of our car. It wasn’t a hard hit; more like a bump. We hoped he wouldn’t acknowledge it, but when he stopped and got out of his car, we felt compelled to do the same thing. Damn!

Charlie walked over to his car, looking for damage. Technically he hit us, so it wasn’t our fault, right? Yeah, we thought so too. The man rubbed the red paint on his white car, speaking in Turkish. Charlie rubbed the paint and told him “It’s okay, it will rub off” in English. I was standing by trying to discreetly film it with my iPhone.

The man was clearly not happy, but Charlie stayed firm on her stance that it would rub off. Within a few minutes, the man got fed up with trying to talk to us and sent us on our way. No insurance exchange. No police. No money. We were just dismissed. Yes! If we can do this throughout the rally (get dismissed, not into accidents) then we’re set!

After trading paint (and small dents) with another car we were ready to find a parking spot and walk the rest of the way to Sherry Ott’s apartment; where we would be spending the night. Have I mentioned that Sherry is awesome? She totally is!

Our first night in Istanbul is a bit of a blur (an ongoing theme of the Mongol Rally). Sherry, Charlie and I went to a restaurant called Aria, where I tried Turkish Dumplings (yum) for the first time, then we walked down to the Galata Bridge, to meet with some Mongol Rally teams who were in town as well. The remainder of our night was spent sitting on the ground near Galata Tower, chatting, laughing, and getting lost in each other’s company. When we decided to go back to Sherry’s apartment it was 3 am!

So much for an early night, and a decent sleep. Damn you Mongol Rally!

The following day was more relaxed as we set off from Sherry’s apartment and drove to the Bentley Hotel for the night; courtesy of one of our sponsors, OrtaBlu.

My AWESOME bed!

It. Was. Heaven!

I know I should have gone out and explored Istanbul, but I was really tired, I had my own hotel room; with air conditioning. Within minutes of checking in, I was telling Charlie to have fun, shutting my door, and working for a little bit before crawling into bed and passing out for a few hours. It’s horrible, I know!

That night Charlie and I met up with Sherry and Travis & John from Steel Mongolias for dinner. It was a relaxed night, and thankfully an early-ish one as well.

The reality of the Mongol Rally continues to surprise me. I am consistently trading sightseeing for sleep. I hope it’s not going to be like this for the next 5 weeks. Please tell me it won’t be like this for the next 5 weeks!!