Turkey Travel: Bosphorus Bridge - A Story of Scamming in Istanbul

Thursday, July 06, 2017 0 Comments

Turkey Travel: Bosphorus Bridge - A Story of Scamming in Istanbul
Of all the great possible choices to pick from, it most certainly should be Istanbul’s Bosphorus Bridge. Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, Galata Bridge, Ataturk Bridge, Golden Horn Metro Bridge, Fatih Sultan Mehemet Bridge – what can I say, Istanbul loves to create bridges that are not only architectural masterworks, but also expedient for everyday use. Crossing the Bosphorus strait, this suspension bridge connects Europe and Asia, which essentially extends between Ortaköy in Europe, and Beylerbeyi in Asia. Because this was a spontaneous choice as the first stop to see in Istanbul, we were totally unmindful of the slim chance of getting scammed in broad daylight!

Yes, scammed. You read that right. After years and years of living in a third world country, I should have known better – my instincts should have been heightened by the dodgy looks of our cab driver, or the way he maneuvered around the streets of Istanbul on our way to the Bosphorus bridge. But then again, seeing how stunning the Istanbul city was, you’ll kind of lower your guard down, and forget about the possibilities of having that “tourist trap” jiffy. Also blamed it on the fact that I decided to go for tea instead of coffee that fateful day, so I was a bit half awake. :-)

At present, the Bosphorus Bridge has the 25th-longest suspension bridge span in the world, with eight lanes wide - three standard lanes, one emergency lane and one pedestrian lane serve each direction. Throwing in a bit of a history here - the actual construction started in the 1970s and this was designed by Gilbert Roberts and William Brown. Nowadays, they have an annual Intercontinental Istanbul Eurasia Marathon that allows runners to cross the bridge on its way from Asia to Europe. Now, get me my running shoes, I think that’s pretty cool, we need to join that?

Back to the story of scamming. We decided to take a taxi to get here, because our place was quite far from this side of Istanbul. We wanted to veer away from the typical tourist bus traps (oh the irony). Our cab driver was warm and friendly; it was not in our position to throw any stereotypes about the potentiality of scamming, just because of how he looks and all that. Nevertheless, you know how intuitively, you can feel something is amiss? Yes, weird as it may sound - there were tell-tale signs that he was about to scam us.

What sealed the deal was when I was about to pay for the cab fare, as soon as I personally handed him the correct cab fare, he “accidentally” dropped the money on the floor – and when he picked it up, the amount was already different! It’s like a David Blaine moment. Black Magic?! What just happened?! 100000% certain we paid the correct fare, but then again, it’s difficult to argue in a foreign place, right in the middle of an empty alley, where he dropped us off.

I knew he changed it the minute he picked up the money, but of course if you are in a completely new city, in a completely new place, with no one around and all that – it’s rather challenging to reason. So, just like any safe-than-sorry traveler, we walked away. Mustering the courage not to let the incident ruin the whole trip, I made sure I took the plate number of the taxi, and report it accordingly. Ahh alas, a school of life moment. A firsthand experience of some new learning, it’s been a while so yes, it was something.

Luckily, there were really gorgeous Bosphorus views to see and enjoy here. No one can’t complain once you reach this place, because the overall vista was just an absolutely spectacular sight to behold. It’s not too charming as the ones in Budapest, or not too humbling as the ones in Bangkok, but it certainly has its own signature air of awe that makes you want to make it a part of your favorite places to visit. Scam or no scam, Bosphorus Bridge is still that deserving must experience bridge spot when visiting this side of the world. 

Bowdy is an amateur adventurer, a coffee sleepyhead, and a start-up rooter, with a penchant for classic-looking photos. At last count, he has visited some 51 countries, and is now living in Singapore. He's always in search of fascinating routines to exploit, within the limits of after-office hours and vacation leaves.

For invites, reviews, or collaboration ideas, email bowdywanders@gmail.com.

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