Do you know what the difference between Istanbul and Constantinople is?
Constantinople* didn’t have a red FIAT Panda covered in rally decals barreling down the cobblestone streets.
Perhaps a map of Istanbul, city of 15 million, would have been practical.
We were doing it by memory.
Istanbul bridges the gap between the European and Asian land masses, separated by only the Bosphorous Strait. We knew two things, our intended destination the “Albatross Premier Hotel” was on the European side and in the Sultanahmet old town.
I did have a gps with no coordinates and only a zoomed out view of the border of the entire country. I held this out towards the front window for reception and leaned forward watching the side streets for speeding taxis, pedestrians, and rolling carts filled with spice, old TVs, or carpets.
I called out directions based on the direction of the sun, quality of the cobblestones in an alley, and Turkish road signs while Hans dodged the Panda down the narrow streets.
My first goal was to reach the Bosphorous on the southeast edge of the European city. A half-hour of quick reaction driving and we crested a final cobblestone road half covered by remnants of a demolished building and onto the road running along the coast of the Bosphorous.
With goal one accomplished, I scribbled block letters onto a piece of paper. “Hold this up to the back window.”
“What does it say?” Roberta asked.
“It says Mohamed isn’t his prophet.”
“You didn’t!” Yelled Roberta who flipped over the sign to see if she had indeed been shouting heresy to the whole of Istanbul. Instead she found a misspelled Sultanahmet, the region of the city the Albatross was in. Putting the paper to the window again we got an immediate honk and point to the correct fork in the road. This continued for half an hour and we soon learned that further honks meant we were about to head the wrong way.
I won’t name name’s but one of our interns decided that vehicle A/C wasn’t necessary despite our route crossing the Middle East and a place called the Gobi Desert. Therefore, I had my window rolled down in the afternoon sun when someone from outside the car tapped on my shoulder.
I responded in my usual, “Ack!” and turned to face my assailant. The kind Turkishman in office attire with clean trimmed jet-black beard said, “Excuse me sir.”
He handed me a hand drawn map to our destination and scuttled back to his car.
Now despite reaching the old town, we still had no directions to the Albatross Hotel. Therefore, it is solely due to our cultured and innate navigational acumen that two turns later we found the guesthouse.
That my friends is why you can call me the Navigation Sensation.**
*If in the off chance you didn’t know, Constantinople was the previous name to Istanbul and in turn was preceded by Byzantium, and so on a so forth through the cities extravagant past.
**You can keep calling Hans the Intern and Roberta, Roberta.