Istanbul,  TDM,  Travel Journal,  Turkey

Attend a Galatasaray match in Istanbul (Turkey)

To buy tickets for a Galatasaray match, you must have a Passolig card. I wrote a detailed article on the subject here: how to get a Passolig card.

Happy to have recovered my Passolig card, I buy a ticket for the first available game, it will be Galatasaray vs BB Erzurumspor for the 7th day of the Turkish championship

The match takes place at the Türk Telekom Arena, a brand new stadium (inaugurated in 2011) with a capacity of 53,000 seats

The stadium is a little bit off-center, along a highway. It is accessible by subway, about an hour from our Airbnb. As I’m a little bit tight in terms of timing, I decide to take a cab which will take about 30 minutes (40 TL)

I advise you to take a good margin of safety if you plan to come by cab, the traffic is dense in Istanbul at the end of the day

Dropped off just about anywhere by cab, I follow the stream of supporters to get to the entrance of the stadium

The ticket office is open so I guess you can buy tickets on the spot (with your Passolig)

I have to present my Passolig during a first control, the stadier scans it with his smartphone and my photo appears, it works! If the fans hate this system because of the systematic recording it allows, I must admit that for a simple tourist like me it’s quite practical

I’m having a little trouble finding the right door to get to my grandstand, but I’m finally getting there. You have to scan your passolig again to get there. I advise you to write down your grandstand number when you buy your ticket. As your Passolig is used as a ticket, you don’t have any visible information of your location

In total I would undergo 3 excavations, all quite symbolic

The Turkish fans, and especially those of Galatasaray, being reputed to be particularly hot, I decided to take a seat in the surroundings to be at the heart of the atmosphere

As I couldn’t find any information about the turn with the best atmosphere, I chose at random. So I find myself in the “Güney Tribuno”, block 219 (I paid the place 100 TL)

When I arrive, I quickly realize that I lost the coin toss. The hottest grandstand is clearly the one across the street, which seems to be boiling even before the match starts. If you want to take full advantage of the atmosphere, I advise you to take a seat in the “Pegasus Tribuno”

The stadium is quite far from being full with only 31,000 spectators out of a capacity of 53,000

Galatasaray is the Turkish champion and Erzurumspor is currently last in the standings, so I’m hoping for a flood of goals

Even though Galatasaray is still a big one from Turkey, I feel that the squad is still not as strong as it was a few years ago. No more Drogba or Sneijder on the horizon, there’s a lack of great international players. Moreover, Galatasaray has not played in the European Cup since 2012

The game starts and it is clear that there is a big gap between the two teams. However, even if we feel good intentions on the Galatasaray side with a will to play fast and to go forward, the technical waste is very important and prevents to create big opportunities

It is thus in the end a rather poor match which will see Galatasaray winning thanks to a goal of Maicon on corner at the 74th (note the very bad placement at the first post of the defender!)

As for the grandstand, I must admit that I was expecting a better atmosphere. There’s an impressive side to the fact that you can feel that the whole stadium can go up in flames very quickly. Where usually the side stands are quite passive, it’s not at all the case here

Maybe the poor show didn’t help, but I had a much better time, for example, when I went to see a Torino game in Turin

The turn across the street, on the other hand, was at the cleat, singing and jumping for most of the match but I can’t describe it as a great atmosphere

At the end of the match, I look for the access to the subway. It’s not really well indicated (in fact not at all) and following a group, I find myself on the side of the highway where cabs are waiting. I don’t really feel safe to be on the side of the highway, so I go for the cab

Obviously, it is complicated in these conditions to have the normal rate. The cab offers me a fare of 100 TL (whereas I made the round trip for 40 TL at a time when the traffic was much denser). After a few minutes of discussions, we agree on 70 TL, it’s still much more expensive than the normal price but it’s already more reasonable

In the end, he will strip me of an extra 5 TL because he obviously doesn’t have the right change. By making him understand that it isn’t very correct, he will answer me that he likes French people very much, you surprise me!


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