It all started as an innocent plan at to walk to class at Miniaturk, Istanbul’s outdoor miniature museum/park. (Much like Lego land, but of Turkish buildings and monuments, and not made with Lego’s). I was alone, because nobody else was interested in a 5 km walk. I had nearly two hours to get to class. No sweat!



I leave accent study center near Galata tower. I briefly glanced at Google maps before departing. Estimated walk time 1 hour 20 minutes. Miniaturk is at the end of the golden horn, so I just assumed it would be a simple walk along the waters edge until I arrive at my destination.



I came to a fork in the road, which splits me away from the waters edge into an unfamiliar neighborhood. This was not planned, but I used the compass on my phone to stay relatively parallel (I thought) to the golden horn.

destruction/construction, cool to see while wandering

Destruction/construction, cool to see while wandering



I haven’t seen anything familiar in a half hour, have no idea where the golden horn is, but assume I am going the right way. I continue on my path in hopes that I will see something familiar to help me orient myself. Unfortunately, we have not been in this area of town before, so trying to orient myself was useless.

Got my roosters in a row. finding my way through the streets.

Got my roosters in a row. finding my way through the streets.



I make the decision to get on top of all the hills I encounter, in hopes of finding a vantage point with a view of the golden horn. It was just my luck that the first hill I climbed looked out left to a valley, with a cemetery hill on the other side. To the right, I could see another smaller cemetery hill. I thought these were familiar to me. If the cemetery hill was on the other side of the golden horn, which I thought it was I would have been on the right track. How many cemetery hills could there be in Istanbul? I continued in the direction that my new orientation was telling me to go.

Looking out at the cemetery hill, and some skyscrapers.

Looking out at the cemetery hill, and some skyscrapers.



I am dangerously close to some skyscrapers (those pictured above, but way closer), and I know that there aren’t any near Miniaturk, so I decided I must have ended up being a little northeast of Miniaturk, where there is a group of skyscrapers, kind of closer to Taksim. Street signs are directing cars to Taksim and Besiktas, so I figure I need to go west.



I decide that in 15 more minutes of walking, I will hail a cab and get to class on time if I do not find Miniaturk. Right around this time I get to the top of a hill, and look down into the valley below. Water! The Golden horn! Maybe I wont be late after all!



I gave Jordan a friendly phone call, to see where everyone else is, and let him know I am lost, but should be to Miniaturk right around 1 maybe. If I don’t get lost again. I walked down the steep streets to the valley where I saw the water, hoping Miniaturk is right there.



Unfortunately Miniaturk was not at the bottom of the hill, and I was in a pickle. Was Miniaturk to my left? Down the golden horn, towards Eyup? Or up the golden horn, away from everything familiar? I chose left, towards Eyup, but figured it would be a good time to call Ozayr, and just make sure I was as close as I thought I was. I had no idea where I was, so I explained to him that I was underneath a large concrete bridge, which spanned over the water about 200ft in the air.



Ozayr told me that Miniaturk was located at the mouth of the golden horn, and therefore I should go north towards a triangulated structure at the end of the stream, which would be Miniaturk.



This went against my instinct, but I turned around and went north, following the shore up to a triangulated dome structure, which turned out to not be miniaturk. I called Ozayr again, and explained that It was a weird Triangulated dome building. He asked me if It looked like a conference center, which, I thought so. He instructed me to get on a bus going north along the shore, and that I was far south of Miniaturk, and would need to go up along the waters edge a ways to get to Miniaturk.

Conference center triangulated dome

Conference center triangulated dome thing?



I was unsure which bus to take. There were many many buses going by with random numbers. So at this point I decided to run. It would be a lot easier to follow the water if I was on foot. Plus I wanted to get to class on time, which wouldn’t happen if I took the wrong bus. The clock was ticking, only 9 minutes till class starts.



An out of breath phone call with Ozayr, updating him with my location. Near a mosque in a park. I was “on my way” to Miniaturk, and would meet them inside the park. I was looking for a large white tent and the triangulated structure. Unfortunately there were a lot of obstructions, and I could see no such monuments. I recalled seeing the tents from one of my hilltop moments, but could not remember which direction. At this point I was certain I was headed the right way. Running, I passed many industrial buildings, hoping I was almost there.


The white tent of Miniaturk? nope.

The white tent of Miniaturk? nope.


I came to two more large concrete bridges, high in the air. They are very unfamiliar, and beyond them I see rolling hills of forest. Uh. Oh. I don’t think I’m in Istanbul Anymore.

Help I'm Lost

Help I’m Lost



I called Jordan, who I knew would be able to help me get directions to Miniaturk using his smartphone. Ozayr had led me astray, and I had no Idea where I was. I was basically on the side of the highway, next to a bunch of scrap yards, and what I still thought might be the golden horn. I listed everything I could see, to have Jordan try to locate me, but it was no luck, nothing came up on Google. I ran up a few more blocks and saw the Turk Telekom Arena. Turns out I was nowhere near Miniaturk, and had run really far in the wrong direction. I was standing on the edge of the Belgrade forest, which is really far away from everything, outside the Istanbul we are all familiar with. I am so far north that my only solution is to take a taxi home, I wont make it back to Miniaturk with enough time to see it, because they close pretty early.


The forest seen behind vadistanbul, out by turk telekom stadium

The forest seen behind vadistanbul, out by turk telekom stadium


The Taxi man drops me off at Taksim. I walk home, and when I got to the door, I realized I didn’t have my keys! I had left them at accent in the morning, and forgotten to grab them off my studio desk! I was tired, and all I wanted to do was go home and sleep, but now I had to go get my keys from the center.



I arrived at accent and picked up my keys. But it is now 2:30, I am pretty hungry, after having walked/run so far. I decided I’d go get Corba (lentil soup). Going the opposite direction from home, I stopped and ate, and then decided to try some new streets to get home. I ended up finding Sisane park for the second time today, and took a metro home. No more walking for me!

Corba to cheer me up after a series of unfortunate events.

Corba to cheer me up after a series of unfortunate events.



I am home safe (don’t worry mom, I’m o.k.) But realized that I had one crazy experience today. I pulled up Google maps and recreated my route (estimated by what things I remember seeing. It was about 15 km not including the trip back for my keys. I somehow managed to walk 9 miles today in this city that I’ve been in for a month, and not recognize a single thing. The cemetery hill? It was a different one than I thought it was. The Golden Horn? Nope, that was the stream that feeds the golden horn.


A full map of my walk from accent to Turk telekom

A full map of my walk from accent to Turk telekom

The worst part about it all is that I came within a few hundred meters of Miniaturk (it was right around the corner) at 12:45 when I was first calling Ozayr for help. I would have been on time if I had trusted my instinct and headed towards Eyup, and not called him. My poor description of where I was led to me heading north, instead of south. A few hundred meters! The whole day was a guessing game for where to go in a city of 20 million people with no map, and I missed by a few hundred meters! No Way! So if anyone reading this post is in Istanbul and interested in going to Miniaturk, Let me know, because I am looking forward to making up for the lost trip, but probably shouldn’t try to go alone again. Sunday Fun-day at Miniaturk? I think so!




Signing off from the comfort of my home,



*Ozayr did not lead me astray on purpose it was just a funny miscommunication about where I was. oops!

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