A guide to hostel life in Istanbul: Part One
Murat ŞAKA - ISTANBULHürriyet’s photojournalist Murat Şaka has spent the last four months living in hostels in Istanbul and he documented his experiences.
Here are some scenes from a hostel in the historic Sultanahmet neighborhood, visited by youth from all over the world:
Hostel guests are known as "backpackers." According to the “hostel calendar,” it is now the “European Season,” while winter is the hostel season for Spanish and the South American guests. During the summer months these hostels are usually packed with European and Australian visitors. For example, the month of April is ANZAC month. Knowing the right season, though, is not enough to meet the right people, you should also pick the right time of the day. It is impossible to see the Asians outside or the Australians in their bed at night.
The travelers choose their hostels online from websites such as TripAdvisor, relying on reviews and rankings of the hostels. Many hostels also have separate rooms for men and women, and provide small lockers for visitors to lock up their belongings. Rooms with 10-30 bunk beds usually costs between 12-20 euros per person and the average age of the guests are between 20-27.
For most people, staying in a room full of people from foreign cultures who speak languages they do not know can be frustrating, but there are people from all over the world who are willing to take this challenge. If you think that backpackers are only a bunch of tourists whose only goal is to travel with cheap accommodation, you’ll never understand the guy who stays at a hostel and rents a boat just to go to the expensive Reina night club by sea.
Most of them come alone, because they know they’ll meet many travelers in these hostels. “Hostel sociality” means making friends easily and collecting memories before moving on to another hostel.
There are guests who meet at hostels and decide to visit another country together. You are quite lucky if you meet a “bunk buddy” from the country you are planning to go, because firsthand accounts are very valuable. According to hostel executive Onur, there are many who marry each other after meeting in hostels. “They come back later as husband and wife. There are even families that come back with their children and use a whole room as a private room” he says.
Entertainment is indispensable for backpackers. It is easier to find a friend to go out with if you are staying in a hostel. Sometimes whole guests at the hostel gather up to do pub crawls. The receptionists are the most respected guides during these vacations. Wherever they advise the guests eventually end up visiting.
Coming back to a hostel after a tour in the town. They are quite cheerful to tell the receptionist about their experiences in the city.
These three friends from the Netherlands are quite interested in Turkish culture. They ravaged Kapalıçarşı, but they could not finish all the baklavas they bought.
The reception of the hostel is more vibrant in the evening. New Zealanders are checking in while the Slovak woman watches them as her husband works.
- How can I go to Süleymaniye?
- Let me show you on the map.
The loudest are the Dutch college students. They do not listen to anyone’s complaints. Their only fear is their teacher.
According to hostel rules, no one touches another’s belongings. It is even considered rude to pick up someone else’s stuff from the ground.
- I am going to do the laundry if no one else is washing these!
- If the rooms are theirs, we have the corridors!
You can be scared when you first see it in the morning, but you’ll get used to it...
This American father is travelling with his daughter.
The most relaxed part of living together is the decreased responsibility regarding cleanliness and order.
These British friends who met in Istanbul decided to tour the city together.
A typical “crazy” Sultanahmet night at 23.00...
- Shouldn’t have had that last tequila!
This American lady is travelling with her dad and she is more of a book worm than an outgoing girl.
Dutch stock traders hanging out in their room before going out.
It is a matter of ‘supply-demand.’ There is a lot of demand, but little supply. The consequence: The queue.
If you are going out at night, you have to find a way to do your make-up without waking up anyone.
Australians are enjoying their last night in Istanbul before going to Gallipoli (Çanakkale province)