6.17.2009

Thoughts About Istanbul

Before Kristen and I arrived to Istanbul I wasn’t too sure what to expect. This is one of the few places on our trip I had decided to go based on the reputation I have heard from others. It seemed like those who had gone, had found the city captivating and amazing. Those who hadn’t wanted to go to see what the buzz was about.

Starting off I can see why the people who have been here enjoy it so much. After stepping off the plane I was slightly on guard. After being in India recently it was difficult not to be. I was still in the mindset that everyone was out to get my money. In a way it is true that there are people here who want you to come to their store, eat at their restaurant etc… however unlike India, its bearable and somewhat enjoyable. It doesn’t consume your experience, rather it adds to it.

Once we got our bearings the beauty of Istanbul began to show. Part of it may be that we came at the right time when the weather is fantastic (like San Diego) as well as all the great sights that Istanbul has to offer. There is also a good balance here. There are all the Western conveniences which can be expected from a modern city as well as little details that remind you that the past wasn’t really that far off. The past and the present intermingle well in this city, for instance in the Grand Bazaar one of the oldest and largest “shopping malls” in the world, there are shops selling antique jewelry and cell phones in the next.

Another pleasant aspect is the food. This is probably the Asia coming out in Istanbul, but there is food everywhere. Chestnuts, corn on the cob, nuts, grains, doner, kebaps you name it, you can get it. The best part is its all delicious. On top of that if you pay as much for a meal back in San Diego you can sit on the rooftop and get views that are unmatched by almost anywhere else.

The last thought that strikes me is the location. Istanbul has the Bosphorous Strait running right through it. Very similarly to Hong Kong you have one city split by a huge body of water with hills on each side. This waterway means that the city has been around a while (as a port, invaders coming through, etc…), plus seafood, plus amazing views from one side to the next.

All in all, I understand now why everyone who comes to Istanbul loves it. It’s a great vacation spot and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone. I just need to plan for the next time I can explore more of Turkey.

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