Having traveled to a bunch of different places in my life (and I am thankful for that), I must say that Istanbul is like no other. It is a city that sucks you in. You cannot observe it from a distance. I feel like my photos don’t capture any of what I feel being here. There is a unique vibe of history meets modernity, east meets west, culture upon culture… the place is amazing.
Yesterday I explored the Topkapi area, which I will return to on Sunday. I went to the archaeological museum of the city, full of antiquities from many past civilizations that lived in the area comprising present-day Turkey. There were LOTS. The museum was informative and relaxing.
After a nap (I was/am tired from doing a lot), I walked my hotel neighborhood, Sultanahmet. Talked with the local carpet traders, drank lots of tea, and learned about Turkish arts.
Visited a Turkish bath, which was indescribable. Like taking a sauna in a mosque.
Then met up with some Turkish friends for dinner last night. Had a great night out, though my taxi driver was a shady dude who pretended he didn’t know where my hotel was–a clever/deceiving way to drive around and hike up the fare. He miraculously knew how to get here when I proposed finding another cab. This, unfortunately, is a darker side of Istanbul. Many people are out to swindle tourists. Sort of a traveling fact-of-life here. Thankfully I’ve been ok..
Today I spent the day on Büyükada, the largest of the beautiful Princes Islands off the shore of Istanbul. After a ferry ride, I arrived and met some family friends who were enormously generous and nice to me. I was taken into their home and felt like part of their family as they showed me this island, which was breathtakingly beautiful. (A cool fact– on Büyükada, only the police have motor vehicles. Everyone else either walks, rides bikes, or takes horse-drawn carriages. It’s like another century there.)
I’m cutting this short because I’m tired and it’s late, but finally I met with my friends again for dinner and drinks (Raki!). We had a great time, and now I’m back at my hotel ready to crash.
I have tons I could say, but rather than do a half-assed job here, I will leave Istanbul stories for conversations over coffee and tea–appropriate for this city’s legacy.