Atatürk Airport to Taksim on the Cheap – Istanbul, Turkey

Your chariot will be labelled Havatas. Ask at the information desk in the airport and they’ll direct you if you’re not sure where to go to catch this bus, but it’s just outside the airport exit. 

 
The service is very regular, leaving every 30 minutes. It starts at 4am and the last bus leaves at 1am. The journey takes a reasonable 40 minutes, but obviously consider time for traffic. 
Additionally, the service I used to get to Taksim didn’t leave on time and whenever people showed up as we were about to leave they’d wait and take them on. Good news if you’re running late, bad news if you need to get going, so bear that in mind. I didn’t buy a ticket in advance and I think because I landed so late (23:30), it wasn’t much of a problem to get on the bus. 
  

It cost 11 Turkish Lira, an awesome, pocket friendly price if you have a tight budget or just want to save some money. When I asked around, a taxi would’ve cost about 50TL. If it’s a few of you then a taxi may be worth it. It might also cut your time down a little because unlike the bus, you won’t have any scheduled stops on your route. 
  

The Havatas bus service also runs from Taksim to Sabiha Gökçen Airport, as well as a few other routes. You can get more details of them here http://www.havatas.com on their website. 
  

This was a life saver for me. My friends who I met up with in Istanbul joined me on it as well when we departed. They used the metro when they arrived and with their baggage it was a struggle fest! Hopefully this saves you some money and backaches too. 

Happy & safe travels! 

~~~The Wandering Pier

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#bunk taksim – Hostel Review

This is right up there as one of the best hostels I’ve ever stayed in. It lives up to the pictures on their website and other people’s reviews. 

 

The decor is new, modern and chic. The ground floor lounge area is good for relaxing, waiting for friends or making new ones. The computer room is also down there. Chatting with staff at the reception desk was nice. All the staff members I encountered there were friendly and helpful. They advised on places to go and things to see. The hostel also puts on its own events in the rooftop bar. 


Jazz band performing in the rooftop bar


Ah, the rooftop bar. It offers a lovely view of the surrounding city. You can hangout inside or outside. There are games to keep you busy, if the bar and  free wifi don’t do that. It’s also here you have their excellent €5 all you can eat buffet breakfast. You should try it at least once. There’s coffee, tea and juice. Yogurt, cereal, jams and fresh fruit. Cheeses, cold meats, salad, boiled eggs, special yummy scrambled eggs, bread…*whew*…and more! 

Breakfast with a view!


I stayed in a 4 bed mixed dorm. It was tight, but sufficient. Equipped with lockers which you secured with your own code on the keypad. The beds were comfortable and the sheets even felt nice! 

Rooftop sunset



Okay, here are some things that were not so good. A couple of the nights I was there it got quite noisy 3/4am. I always have my earplugs so that was okay for me. Wifi in my room on the second floor was temperamental, so I’d have to go outside of my room or downstairs to get connected. The toilets – where you sit is square, which looks quite fancy, but not the most comfortable. There wasn’t soap in the toilet closest to my room for about 3 days. The price of drinks in the bar are as pricey as anywhere in the centre. We were recommended a restaurant around the corner that basically ripped us off. We spoke to a staff member about it when we returned and she said she’d inform the manager.  


Some of those aren’t a huge deal and as I mentioned it is definitely one of the nicest hostels I’ve stayed in. I would stay here again and would recommend it to anyone, I just wanted to give a heads up about those points. Have a great time in Istanbul. It’s a wonderful city to visit. 

Smiles after an evening hanging out in #bunk



~~~The Wandering Pier

Eat Bunny Chow in Durban

We arrived in Durban, the place in which the books said bunny chow was a must. I still had no clue what it was. The words amused my tongue and ideas danced around my brain. A quick google search would of course resolve everything, but I liked the idea of not knowing. So, I would follow the clear instructions given in the guidebooks – find it and eat it. 


  


That damp day in Durban, my mum and I made our way to Victoria Market. There, in a shop where we bought some lovely paintings and souvenirs, I asked the shop owner where I should have bunny chow. Without hesitation she said at The Oriental. The best and only place we should have it. 


  


We found ourselves on public transportation for the first time in the country. Yay, food adventures! 🙂 Upon alighting the bus we dashed through the rain. Wet streets and wet feet took us to what I was surprised to find was the food court of a shopping mall. Really


  


Lots of people were milling around the spot we needed to go to. That relieved me. By the time of ordering we knew what the bewitchingly named bunny chow was. Your chosen portion size of a bread loaf, hollowed out and filled with delicious curry. The hollowed bit was served on the side and used for dipping. We ordered quarter loaves. My mum got mutton and I went for the beef. The taste explosion was worth the wait. Worth the hunt. Worth the enigmatic anticipation. 


  


The spices married perfectly, the meat was tender and the way the bread soaked up the curry was as though these two were always meant to be together. I still have daydreams about this meal. If you’re ever in Durban, it is hands down a must! 


Have you ever tried it? Have you ever made it? What did you think? 

~~~The Wandering Pier

Racing the Sun to the Tip of Africa

It was an early rise for my mum and I. We needed to check out and have a quick breakfast before running some errands in Plettenberg Bay. With the car fueled up, some more Rand in our pockets and our postcards at the beginning of their journeys across the globe, we set out for Cape Agulhas.

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In our reading and research, Cape Agulhas came up a few times. It is the most southerly point of Africa and the point where the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic. We agreed that it was a must. With only one day to get there, the race was on.

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The drive was spectacular. Like with all of our previous journeys making our way across South Africa, every bit of scenery was breathtaking. You feel like you’re driving through a painting or continuously browsing through the best postcard shop there ever was.

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The dipping sun and its gloriously golden hue, told me that we were fast running out of time. I looked at how much further we had to go and calculated that we could make it by sunset, if I drove a bit faster and we made zero stops.

As the sun continued to lower critically close to the horizon, we neared our destination. By then, I knew we would make it. We rolled into the car park with perfect timing. The view was yet another that stole my breath away. We and the other handful of people that were there stood entranced by the sky and watched as the sun left us for another land far away.

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We checked out some information on a board nearby, before making our way down to the water. I had to dip my feet in and stand where the Indian Ocean officially meets the Atlantic. They were equally freezing!

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My mum and I marveled at where we were and truly soaked in the experience. We lingered a while longer, looking at the changing colours of the stunning sky.

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When the show was over, we reluctantly made our way back to the car. It was an incredible day, with the best ending one could ask for, two Trinis sitting at the tip of Africa.

~~~The Wandering Pier

Sunday Surf

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A few years ago I tried surfing. It was in Bournemouth, England that I went for a lesson. It was fun, but pretty challenging without any waves. Nonetheless I got some basic pointers that could only really be built upon with practice.

Fast forward to South Africa, 2014. After an early departure from Cape Agulhas, my mum and I arrived in Cape Town by 9am. Later that evening, after reuniting with a couple of South African friends Estie and Peter, who I met in Korea, they invited me to go surfing the next morning. For me the only catch was the 7am start. I told them I’d let them know.

After some debate with myself that night, I decided it wasn’t often that the opportunity to start my Sunday with an early morning surf came along. I would go.

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It indeed turned out to be such an awesome way to start my day. The sun was shining gloriously, causing the blue waters to dazzle. That alone was enough reason to be there. Attempting to surf was a little tough, but with a great set of instructions from my friend Estie, I was on my way. I didn’t stand up in the end, but I had so much fun trying. The couple of waves that I did catch gave me the rush I needed to keep trying. I could totally see why surfers sit out there on their boards for ages, waiting to catch the perfect wave. It is so worth it.
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~~~The Wandering Pier