Every once and awhile you need to embrace full “tourist mode”, I did that in Turkey a few weekends ago. I got excited about every fez and made it my mission to eat Turkish delight.
Istanbul is beautiful.
I love seeing new places. And being in Austria right now has made last minute adventures all the more possible. That’s what this trip was, and really all of my recent trips for that matter. I enjoy traveling but it is so much better when you get to travel with others. I had a friend, Courtney, that was in Istanbul for a conference and as she couldn’t make it to Austria… and so the only logical next step was for me to go to Turkey.
I was only there for the weekend, but we certainly packed in a fair amount of sightseeing into those 48 hours.
Having spent a considerable amount of time both in the Arab world as well as Europe, I found Istanbul incredibly fascinating. Obviously, from a geographic sense, Istanbul is the place where the Middle East and Europe meets. But what I didn’t expect was how much that was true on a cultural level. Walking through the shopping area streets I could see European architecture but as if it was being seen through a Middle Eastern lens. Ancient mosques were nestled between old Byzantine structures. And around every corner, I would hear a different language.
The people too, there was such an interesting combination of people that made up the tourist crowds in Istanbul. From what I could gather when Courtney and I would speak with the local shop owners, a few years ago there would be tourists from almost everywhere. But after recent events and the shifting political/security climate, the Americans and the Europeans have stopped visiting. What this left the city with was large groups of tourists from Eastern Europe, Asian countries, and the Arab World for the most part. The blending of all of those different cultures in the different respective ticket lines and restaurant courtyards made for some very interesting people watching.
I loved it. I would definitely go back. And no, I didn’t buy a fez.
But I wanted to.