Posted by: cousindampier | 26 May 2014

The Way Home, Day 1

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Istanbul is a familiar place to be, and I’ve only been here once before. To be fair, the general layout is simple – if you’re going uphill, you’re headed towards the Mosques or to Taksim Square, depending on which side of the Golden Horn you are on. Kind of like how one can always find their way in DC by using the Washington Monument as a landmark, Istanbul has the mosques and the water.

And the hills. The lady at the metro station told me the walk was ten minutes, and she was right; but it was uphill and I was pulling about 40 kilograms of stuff. When I finished, I wanted to wander around like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but instead re-packed my stuff and threw away a fair amount.

It is a lonely time to be here. Big cities are like big cities anywhere else, and that includes the massive number of people headed in any direction to do any number of very important things. My first half-day here had two objectives: get some sleep, and start taking small steps towards the idea that I am going to continue west and not return to Almaty; that home has shifted once again.

But it is, as always, a tremendously enjoyable city to walk through. My last time in Istanbul was winter, when the crowds were less. Unlike last time, I don’t get played by guys here looking to stick me with some sort of an enormous bill I can’t pay. Two guys have approached with the “From Ankara, here on vacation, want to come to a bar?” line. The result is to wonder how often I’ve been played before.

The lines at the mosques are enormous, and the mosques also have lights outlining the minaret towers at night, which makes for a pretty nighttime view.  Walking down by the Galeta Bridge, the lights of the restaurants seem like Las Vegas, and one only has to turn around to see the dimly lit curves of the mosques behind it.  

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