I enjoyed the visit to the opulent Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul and was rushing to get to the Military Museum, which is actually quite an unusual thing to have on your sightseeing list especially if you are a girl but my background is very military and I tend to visit Military Museums in each city I go to. Also the Askeri (the Turkish word for Military) Museum is famous for its Mehter, the world’s oldest military band. When you hear them you know which country they come from. The Mehter band have a 20 minute concert at 3 and 4 pm at the Military Museum and apart from seeing all the exhibits I wanted to catch the band as well.
Rushing with my map, guide books and rucksack I went onto the main street thinking to stop a passing cab. On my right side before I managed to hail any taxi a middle aged man approached me and in nice polite English offered me a cab. I looked behind him and there were two, official yellow Istanbul cabs parked. Conscious that I had never used a cab in Istanbul before I asked how much was to get to the Military Museum.
“Cheap, only 28 Turkish Liras.”
It didn’t sound cheap but I thought I must have miscalculated the distance or misread the map as I was expecting it to be near the Dolmabahce Palace. Reluctantly I agreed.
In the cab, between reading the map and trying hard to find my bearings around Istanbul, the conversation with the polite Turkish cab driver continued.
“Where do you come from?”
“Welcome to Paradise.”
A very nice introduction to the city and I must admit Istanbul was bordering with paradise – nice food, nice friendly people, much better weather than in London, so much to see and experience…I loved it.
We passed through the tunnel, we were stuck in minor traffic jams in an affluent area which according to my map wasn’t between Dolmabahce Palace and the Military Museum, and he seemed a bit agitated. He would pace his thumb on the wheel, opening and closing the window, muttering, cutting up the car in front, beeping at passing pedestrians…I blamed myself for his state…Probably my hastiness made him nervous…
When we arrived at the Museum he quickly bent his left arm to open the door for me, the door behind him whcih would take me straight into any passing traffic…I refused to get out…He said the price…and it was 28 turkish liras which showed on his meter…I went for my wallet and I thought I gave him a 50 lira note. Before I was able to put my foot on the pavement he calmly and with the biggest smile I had seen on him declared:
“Sorry, you only gave me 5 liras. It’s not the same“. He waved the note at me.
Still hurrying to get to the concert I quickly opened my wallet again to get more money only to reliase that I had only 20 liras left…How embarrasing…I looked round for a bank apologising profusely only to be stopped in the middle of my sentence by the helpful cab driver.
„Do not worry, just give me what you have.“
And I did! 20 turkish liras and £4.46 in coins and he took it all…Even the coppers but telling me how difficult it would be to change the coins so it’s better if I give him more…
I closed the door and he drove off fast…Only when I put my wallet back into my rucksck I began to comprehand the whole sad situation. I did have 70 Turkish Liras in my wallet, I checked it before leaving the palace to see if I would have enough money for a cab which meant I never gave him 5 liras in the first place, I had given him my 50…He swapped notes on his lap out of sight…he opened the back door for me after I paid him to distract me…
Fuming, I sat through the concert which I managed to catch on time. I enjoyed a lengthy visit to the Museum afterwards but I was even angrier when I took a cab back to Dolmabahce Palace just to check how much the fare would be this time…It was 10 Turkish Liras and lasted a mere five minutes…there were no tunnels or posh areas…just a straight, clear road..
In total I was robbed of approximately 65 Turkish liras which is around £36…Maybe not much money but the whole set up left a very bad taste for paradise.
Did you have any bad experiences on your travels?