It’s starting to feel somewhat routine enough that I can begin to anticipate the emotions. I’ve been in Istanbul for 24 days but I’m all packed up. A driver will gather me up at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow morning and deliver me to Turkish Airlines at Ataturk Airport. I’m bound for London.
I had some last minute errands that I wanted to run and I just got back. Fittingly enough it was cold and raining really hard, but that’s unfortunately the memory I’m going to have of Istanbul. I was just “lucky” I guess to hit an unusually long cold and wet spell. Alas, but I pretty much checked everything off my list that I wanted to see except for a couple of museums that were added by others. You know who you are.
As mentioned I was able to anticipate the emotions I’d feel as I strolled down Istiklal Cadessi for what may be the last time for a long time. My eyes are extremely alert for the ordinary and mundane things that I had started to take for granted and now stand out like they are in Kodachrome and the rest of the world is in black and white. The kastane vendors selling roasted chestnuts from their bright red carts. The bagel vendors plying their wares from similar carts sans the wood fire smoke. The neon sign on the Beyoglu Hamam, why hadn’t I noticed that before I wonder. A bill pasted to the walls of the building across from my apartment advertising “Club Bangkok.” “Club Bangkok?” Where did that come from?
Istanbul truly is a magical and mystical place. It can seduce you into thinking that you’re in the center of Europe and it’s beauty is non parallel, really it is. However, about the time you start to let your guard down it will deliver you a middle eastern or even oriental sucker punch. Bam! Take that you English-speaker, you. And don’t be so quick to forget where you are next time.
Istanbul is the last city where I will be staying an extended period so this makes me feel like I’m on my way home…sort of. I still have nearly two months to go before I finally reach Los Angeles, and in the interim I will be visiting the great capitals of Europe: London, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, Florence, and Ray’s ancestral homeplace in Sicily. But in all these cities I will only be a few days, nearly a week at the most (with the exception of Florence, of course), and my roots won’t have time to create their little sprouts that are so hard to yank out when it’s time to go.
Here’s the little apartment I’ve been living in for over three weeks: