Where The Streets Have No Name

by Timothy Lange

A leap into the unknown Turkey


Melanie exuded this aura of invincibility that made people do stupid things. A mischievous grin and twinkle in her eyes promised unpredictable adventure that you knew you couldn't miss. Still, running across a highway in Istanbul? That seemed insane. We met Melanie earlier when we climbed the rickety metal stair case up to the rooftop bar of our hostel. Overlooking the grandeur of the Blue Mosque, it's minarets aglow in the evening light, the `bar' consisted of a bucket of beers, pillows strewn across the floor and more hookah pipes than people. "Come take a squat, gents!" There was Melanie-left hand clutching a beer and waving us over, while her right hand was wrapped around a hookah pipe that was tapping the worn pillow beside her. Cautiously we sat down beside her, noting her feather earrings, multiple beaded necklaces and baggy clothing that gave her a serious hippie vibe. "Have I got a night planned for us! I found a U2 bar in Istanbul! It's going to be SO GOOD!" Who was this girl and what was she on about? We had arrived in Istanbul 12 hours earlier, two Canadians leaving North America for the first time to explore Europe. Unfortunately, it didn't take long for our naivety to get the best of us. Venturing though the chaos of the spice market, past Egyptian obelisks and under an ancient Roman aqueduct, we aimed for a massive mosque sitting atop a peak in the city. After a shoe shining scam left our wallets many lira lighter, we rounded a corner and stopped dead in our tracks as we faced an unimaginable horror: Chickens. Dozens of massive chickens covered a narrow run-down alley, and when they spotted us they all turned at once to stare. "We should leave." I heard my friend's whisper and nodded as I slowly began to back up. No mosque selfie was worth death by tourist-eating chickens. As we retreated the chickens began to softly cluck and walk toward us. I'm not ashamed to admit-we ran. Remembering this, I gave my friend a skeptical look as we considered Melanie's offer. What more could Istanbul throw at us? Two hours of wandering later, we ended up on the side of a highway, with the sweet tunes of U2 beckoning on the other side. Melanie grinned at us and then darted out into the road while yelling, "It's like human Frogger!" Multiple near-death experiences later and we settled into the grungy bar, tequila shots in hand while we waited for Bono's sweet voice to soothe our nerves. They didn't play a single U2 song all night.