About My First Few Hours in Turkey

A rental car should be clean and fully functional especially if the car is described as “new.” It was 2016 and the car I rented was a 2016 model so I expected it to be in very good if not excellent condition with all modern accoutrements available for use.

Although the 2016 model Fiat I rented looked fine from the outside I found it lacking in several areas. First, the gas tank was empty. I’m new to renting cars so I didn’t expect this. Second, the GPS system I rented was missing an SD or SIM card to connect to the network. This rendered the navigation system inoperable. Great! I was in a new city without any means of knowing which direction to go in. Third, although my cellphone worked, its battery needed to be charged. This 2016 model vehicle did not have a USB port, so my only option was a cigarette lighter. I didn’t have an adaptor for my cellphone so I the cigarette lighter was not an option for charging my cellphone but until I purchased one. A day later, I purchased the adaptor and learned that the cigarette lighter did not work! Damn! Third, I failed to mention this first, but I left it until the end for maximum impact. The rental company did not tell me that the vehicle I was renting had a manual transmission. Had I not been able to drive a stick shift I would have been quite flustered and possibly wasted more time negotiating a rental for an automatic transmission vehicle. That wasn’t the case, so I just drove away in my 2016 Fiat without a working cigarette lighter, inoperable GPS navigation system, empty gas tank, soon-to-be inoperable cellphone, and no clue which way to travel to get to my accommodation. Fuck!

That is how I began my trip to Turkey last year. The only consolation was that the Turkish people were quite hospitable and extremely helpful. For instance, within the first hour of arriving in Turkey I went to the tourist booth where I met a tour guide who told me to stay close to his friend — a local Ukrainian woman who lived in the area where my accommodation was located, Sultanahmet. This Ukrainian woman who spoke the Turkish language, and Russian, sat in my back seat and helped me navigate the streets and highways of Turkey. She wasn’t the best at navigating though because she doesn’t drive, but rather takes buses, and subways to get around. As I mentioned the Turkish people were quite friendly because there were a couple of instances during my first few hours in Turkey where she got out of the car and approached other drivers in their cars who were waiting at the red light to ask for directions. They obliged and guided us safely to Sultanahmet.

She and I spent over an hour together after I drove away from the airport in that rental car. With every passing minute I worried that the car, running low on gas, would clunk out on me. I was surprised that it didn’t. At one point there was lots of traffic and we were headed into a part of the highway where if I didn’t turn away we could have could come much closer to having the car stop on us. There was an exit. It wasn’t really an exit, but it was a means for me to turn off the road and head in the direction of the gas station that was located on the opposite side of the road. Thank God for that opening! I turned off the highway and then merged into the traffic and then made my way into the gas station where I filled up the tank. Phew! Thereafter, I didn’t worry about the car clunking out on us. I just cared about how I would find my accommodation. The Ukrainian woman said everything looked familiar so I felt at ease. Minutes later we found my accommodation and the Ukrainian woman being familiar with the area hopped out of the car, gave me a hug, and wished me luck on my first visit to Turkey.

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