I suspect I heard that boast 7000 times a day in Turkey. “Turkish rug merchants” could be the succinct definition of “persistant”. The rugs were exquisite – made of fine silk, they changed colors as you walked around them – but I was not in the market, although that fact was impossible to impress upon the sellers. They used clever tactics to get my attention: “Hey, are you a supermodel?” or “If those men [read: other salesmen] hassle you, I will protect you – I am your Turkish brother!” It was fun, until it wasn’t.
I was drawn to Turkey the first time I read the words Hagia Sophia and saw pictures of its domes and minarets, most likely in a National Geographic (I was probably eight years old; thanks Mom and Dad). My journal entry of the first day of my actual adult visit reads “I can’t tell you how sweet it is to send an email that includes the phrase ‘I’m in Istanbul now.’”
Besides finally making it to this beautiful cobblestoned city straddling East and West, literally and figuratively, there, sitting at a rooftop bar, I made an important discovery about myself: being near moving water makes me very, very happy. The narrow Bosporus Strait connects the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea, creating a mighty flow; it is a prime example of “moving water”! It is also an extremely busy waterway, and witnessing tankers flying along due to the super current and the tiny boats that darted between them took my breath away.
I took ferries out to the Princes’ Islands on Anzac Day, with somber Australians as ferry-mates; I visited the Palace of Beylerbeyi, where I was told croissants were invented. I noted signage: “Ocretiz yazima,” “Kres ve cocuk, Kulubu (Stud Merkezi), and “Hem hezmit, hem pani.” I ate Lahmacun, Turkey’s version of pizza. I conversed with the many street cats, said to be reincarnated İstanbullular.
Here are some photos from my first days in Turkey for your consideration. I hope you enjoy them.
Live all you can. It’s wise to do so.