At nine pm on the night before I left for Istanbul, I got a phone call which I thought would confirm an ideal housesitting arrangement.
“I’m sorry I didn’t ring earlier,” said the caller, and mumbled a story that inexplicably involved a lost American and my phone number. With a sinking feeling, I realized it was 4 am local time.
“I’m really sorry, you can’t stay in the flat the day you arrive, there’s someone else staying there. You’ll have to find another place to stay.”
“Oh, right, ok.” You do realize I arrive tomorrow? I yelled in my head. “And after tomorrow? Can I move in the following week?”
“Well it’s not my place, you see. I can’t guarantee anything.”
This conversation was the culmination of countless weeks and hours spent searching for accommodation online: Turkish websites lıke sahibinden, with a local friend calling landlords for me, and the websites that charged double, on the sheer basis of posting in English. All basement and street level flats were automatically eliminated, as were flatshares with Erasmus students, whıch was basically everythiıng. That’s why I was so excited about the housesit.
With no time left to search for a renovated flat with a view of the Bosphorus, nor a place to put up my friends who were arriving the same day, I went to airbnb.com.
I requested the first reasonable room I found. Her name is (almost!) a palindrome and she has a cat. Thankfully, she agreed to accommodate me.
So tonight I’m crossing the ocean, three seats to myself, a mini bottle of Australian wine on a tray table and great tunes in my ears, to that magical place where Europe ends and Asia begins. And at least I know there’s a room waiting for me when I get there.