Norwegian tourist injured in suicide bomb attack vows to return to Istanbul
by Daily Sabah
ISTANBULJan 13, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Jan 13, 2016 12:00 am
The recent suicide bombing in Istanbul's Sultanahmet Square certainly hurt the sense of security prevalent in Istanbul, but many visitors do not think it will affect their travel plans. Indeed, Jostein Nielsen, 59, a Norwegian national who was injured in the attack, is thinking of returning to the city to wrap up his tour of the historic sites.
Nielsen and his wife Magna Vaaje were among the tourists on a sightseeing tour of Istanbul on Tuesday. They were visiting Sultanahmet Square where Istanbul's iconic Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque are located when a suicide bomber blew himself up a few meters away from them. "I saw one man, he was most probably the bomber. I heard a click and then a loud bang. It was like blood rained all over us. I saw body parts around afterwards," he described the attack as he showed his bloodied shoe to reporters.
Nielsen sustained a leg injury and was discharged from the hospital yesterday after treatment. As he was leaving the country, he spoke to reporters at Atatürk International Airport and pledged to come back once he fully recovers in Moldova where he currently lives. "I was lucky and my wife was luckier because she was not injured. We were in Istanbul for a couple of days and this happened. But I am fine now. Everybody helped us. I spoke to some ministers and they did all they could for our care here," he said. Nielsen said he never thought anything negative about Turkey after the attack. "You can't blame it because of some crazy people attacking others," he said.
He said he will return to Istanbul to complete his tour: "I still haven't seen the Blue Mosque and Grand Bazaar. Of course, I would like to return."
Istanbul, with its historical sites and the Bosporus, is a major attraction for tourists worldwide. More than 12 million foreign tourists visited the city last year and Germans make up a majority. It remains to be seen whether the attack will see a drop in the number of visitors, although tourists interviewed by Daily Sabah expressed their desire to stay after the attack.
"When we heard about the accident before we came here, of course we were afraid and almost canceled our vacation. ... Accidents can happen anywhere. But our friends and colleagues in Turkey say that Turkey is a safe country and the security level is rising. We feel safe and enjoy our travel," an Indonesian tourist visiting Sultanahmet Square told Daily Sabah yesterday.
"We have no change in our vacation plan until our government tells us differently, we would be happy to stay in Turkey and in Istanbul, especially. We plan to visit again," Elizabeth, a British tourist who declined to give her last name, said.
"I have come today and heard about the attack. And I think it is safer now than before. I come here twice or three times a year and I will continue to do so," a tourist from Kosovo said.
"I have no word for it [the attack]. ... It is my first time and my mum called me and said don't go, it is dangerous. But it is not a reason for us not to go there," Helga, a tourist from Germany, said.
"I find Turkey pretty safe. I was a bit worried yesterday, but people here are so friendly and it is a beautiful city. ... Definitely, there is no change in our vacation plans," an Irish tourist who declined to give his name said.
Life was back to normal in Sultanahmet Square, which swarms with tourists year-round, after security cordons placed by police were removed. The mosques and museums in the area reopened and people sitting on the square's benches were enjoying a glimmer of sunlight amid a breeze and occasional strong wind.
BBC Turkey correspondent Mark Lowen was among those encouraging people not to cancel their trips. "Cloudy morning in Istanbul. One of the world's great cities shaken. Many I know cancelled trips here the past year. Come, it's wonderful," he tweeted