If you haven't seen the movie The Hangover, and don't want it ruined for you, then stop reading now. If you have seen it (4 times in the theater, like me) then, please, continue.
This was my view. The gray sky had turned blue on my second day in Istanbul, so I wanted to get some good pictures from the rooftop terrace of my hostel overlooking the Sea of Marmara, some of the southern Turkish islands and also the Asian side of the city. Eight floors up gave me the perfect vantage point.
I had been up there the day before and there were a couple people on the outside deck. The terrace was laid out in two sections: the inside seating and bar area and a much smaller outside deck area with a couple of chairs and a porch swing. The heavy glass door connecting the two had been propped open then. (See The Hangover connection now?) This day, however, it was still early and the hostel dwellers hadn't made it to the bar just yet. In fact, I think the only person in the entire building may have been the guy manning the front desk, some eight floors below.
I didn't think it a big deal when the door slammed shut behind me. I took the above picture (and about 20 more just like it) and then turned to walk back downstairs. I can't describe in words the exact feeling I got when I noticed there were no outside handles on the door. I guess it's kind of like that jolt of adrenaline you get when you pass a cop and you know your speeding. Not the good kind of rollercoaster, skydive adrenaline. More of the "oh shit" kind. There was this moment of confusion, followed by a frantic Indiana Jones-type feel around the perimeter of the door, looking for some magical way to push it open. I never panicked. I knew that, eventually, someone would want a drink and make their way upstairs. But even then, that "eventually" could've been hours since this was late morning and the bar didn't open until late afternoon. I just didn't want to waste and entire day of my trip trapped on a hot roof.
I started knocking. Maybe someone in one of the seventh floor rooms would hear it. I knew it was impossible for the front desk guy to hear anything, so this was my only hope. After about 10 minutes, I gave up with that plan. It was time to go with Plan B.
You'll notice in this picture the set up of tables and chairs. Those are, in fact, not a part of the hostel. I took this picture standing up against an iron fence, separating my roof from the roof a posh hotel next door. You can't see it, but just to the left of this picture is the their terrace, leading into the hotel's kitchen. The door was open. All I had to do was make it onto the neighboring rooftop and I'd be home free. I wish this was the point of the story where, in like most action film chase sequences, I get a running start and leap from the edge of my roof, over the busy street below, and land safely onto the other, but truth be told, there was about a 3-inch gap between buildings. I simply just climbed over the fence.
When I walked into the hotel kitchen, I scared the hell out of some poor, old lady in there cooking. She may have thought I was a super hero, flying from building to building. Or, more likely, a burglar, sneaking in to strangle her and the other guests. She started yelling something in Turkish as I tried to explain, with full-on hand gestures, my ordeal. As we kept talking over each other in languages neither of us could understand, I knew I had to get out of there, fast. Still futilely explaining how I got up there, I was frantically looking for a way out, which I'm sure made me that much more suspicious. I noticed a spiral staircase in a hallway and made a run for it as she picked up the phone. This is when the panic set in. I had seen enough movies and heard enough stories about Turkish prisons to know that that isn't how I wanted to spend the rest of my trip (and possibly life) over a simple communication issue. I ran down the eight flights of stairs and right past the desk clerk who stood and yelled something as I flew by. He was on the phone, I assume with the lady upstairs.
I made it safely back into the hostel, caught my breath (and wits) and, while telling the story to the guy at the front desk, started laughing about it. The story is almost a year old now, but I was reminded of it earlier this week, during Traveler's Night In (#tni), a weekly Twitter group that posts travel-related questions. One focused on the "biggest travel disaster encountered." I edited this story down to 140 characters (not easy) and then noticed someone else's answer:
There are no disasters. Only adventures.The perfect response.