Sunday, January 17, 2010

Istanbul, my first shipwreck

Travelling is all about experience, that's why when I'm on the road I try my best to look like a local, adopt locals' manners and customs that are different from what I'm used to and try to think and behave like a local.

Lucky me, I'm helped in my efforts by the fact that everywhere I go, I'm mistaken for a local: I go to Brasil, locals think I'm Brasilian, I go to Istanbul, locals think I'm my friends' local guide, in London Arabs talk to me in Arabic, Iranians in Farsi and so and so forth.

I love it.

So, when I was in Istanbul I was determined to live up to my principles and I tried to emulate locals wherever I was: I smoked nargileh, played a table game because I saw everybody was playing it (although I couldn't manage to understand my teacher's explanations in Turkish, and I lost) and I kept wearing the veil even outside the mosques (this is just because I'm convinced that it suits me, but I took it off when I realised I was the only one wearing it).

Despite my vocation though, the best experience came about by some quirk of fate when I was behaving like the perfect tourist. My friends and I booked a cruise along the Bosphorus to relax and enjoy Istanbul's most momentous highlight, and ended up shipwrecking.

The beginning was not too bad, ship-wise. Actually it was great, a lovely sunny day, our guides, Alparslan and Vittorio, were showing us the wonders on both sides of this stretch of water that divides the European from the Asian continent, explaining the differences between the two parts of Istanbul and granting us with some tips about where to go to eat, club and shop.


After passing underneath the huge bridge that connects the two Continents, we stopped for a coffee on the Asian side. A great espresso taken sitting outside a lovely bar perched on the very edge. Yes, sometimes happiness can be that simple.

We hopped on our boat, started up the engine and stared at the coloured flowers while we moved away toward our coast. Almost immediately after departure, we perceived some concern within the crew members, even if we didn't understand Turkish. It didn't take long that the engine stopped working.

At first, we thought we were about to stare at something really worth a stop, but in less than no time we understood we were in trouble. The boat started sinking and allowing too much water in. We were surrounded by other boats so we weren't that scared. At the beginning laughter and jokes came out spontaneously and we even suggested our guides to consider staging a shipwreck during their tours.

The engine didn't seem quite keen on working, so our captain called his brother to tow us to the port. He arrived, picked us up and our engine started working, so he left us alone. Only ten seconds later, our engine broke down again.


Among our travel companions there was a Spanish couple: the lady wore the orange rescue jacket to amuse everyone and she actually managed to, but at the end, more than an hour later, they both felt seasick. I thought I could swim, as I'm a good swimmer and it was a warm day, but when I looked at the water and saw it was full of jellyfish, I hoped someone would come to rescue us as soon as possible.

At the end, we went for a drink with our guides and today, thinking about the adventure makes me smile and realise how much I miss Istanbul. The crew members were great, never stopped laughing and joking, as well as our guides.

Although unplanned, shipwrecking made the cruise all together more interesting and worth remembering, and by all means, it was an experience. The conclusion was as unpredictable as the beginning. Only when the danger was averted, I called my parents to tell them about my latest adventure, doing my best not to make them worry:

"Today, while we were cruising along the Bosphorus, we shipwrecked, but don't worry, we were rescued and I'm completely fine!"

"You shipwrecked?? Lucky you! We're so jealous!"

"But, mom..."

7 comments:

RNSANE said...

This was such a fun story. Glad it had a happy ending..but it sounds like, at no time, were you ever in any danger!

Shannon OD said...

What an unexpectedly fun experience - and how many people can legitimately claim they survived a shipwreck! I just love how this story illustrates the basic facts of traveling - it's the unplanned occurrences and places that so often prove the most memorable :-)

AngelaCorrias said...

Carmen, no danger, the tears were due to too much laughing!

Shannon, precisely, traveling is also about unplanned experience, this is what makes it so important and worth remembering.
And how worth it now that I can say I had my share of risk! :-P

Travel Muse said...

I applaud your attitude. Most people don't realize that travel is all about experience and usually, "experience is what you get when you didn't get what your wanted". Great post!

AngelaCorrias said...

Absolutely, and as it happened to me, we can stumble onto the best experience when we don't expect it at all! That day was much fun!

Kat said...

Wow! Reading this is an experience itself. As a traveller, I agree that everything doesnt fall according to planned. Keeping your spirits up and have an open mind, makes the travel worthwhile.

AngelaCorrias said...

Yeah, I think if the shipwreck was planned it wouldn't have been such fun! The "unplanned" is always more charming ;-)

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