I would have never thought to go to Istanbul. I read amazing historical fiction books about it and knew some of it’s significant history, but I imagined it as a place where bombs would be going off all the time. Dangerous. Risky. Scary.

But as it happened, I ended up randomly having a very long layover in Istanbul on my way to India in January. I was worried about this. What if the airport blows up while I’m there?!! But it was the only flight that made sense, so I had to take it.

As it was getting closer to my flight time, I learned that Turkish Airlines offers a free day tour of Istanbul if you have a long layover! I was still worried going into the city, but how could I resist an easy free tour like that… I would have to do 0 work! They even provide free lunch! So my curiosity and adventurous side won over, and I decided to go for it!

When I got there, I learned that I can either get a free hotel or free tour… I decided to stick with the tour and get my own hotel! So I woke up, got to the airport early in the morning, worried, but excited for the tour.

I get on the tour bus, and off I am to the city… And the first thing I see of it is traffic. Just traffic. Normal people on their normal commute to work. Playing music, drinking coffee, listening to music. It was the most normal scene in the world. Here I was, imagining chaos and bombs going off, and instead it’s just the most normal morning I could imagine. Just like in most cities in America. I almost cried at how normal it was, and at how stupid my fear was.

The news makes us so afraid, but the truth is, it’s just normal people everywhere just trying to go to work, pursuing their dreams, providing for their families.

I was reminded of this yet again when I arrived to Bangkok yesterday. I imagined Thailand as chaotic and crazy, and yes, I was a bit afraid. But I got off my plane and took two trains to my hotel, shocked the whole time how clean and organized everything was. The metro ticket system is so much easier than Paris!

I’m glad I didn’t let my fear stop me from seeing the unbelievable Hagia Sophia, but I definitely still have some fear of other countries that I’m hoping to dispel one day as I continue to travel. I’ll be going back to Istanbul on purpose next time!