Istanbul

Istanbul - fascinating town between continents. Rich of history and colors.

Early morning, the streets are still empty. Descending from Taksim to the Galata bridge. A last view on the town – peaceful bedded on the hills, surrounded and divided by the waters of Marmara Sea, Golden Horn and Bosporus. A light mist is hovering over the ground and the first rays of the sunlight colouring everything slightly pinkish.

Time to leave - unfortunately. But also inspiration for the first blog on this site.

Istanbul - city between continents. Colourful, lively, fascinating. City with a long history and changing fortune over time. Often torn between East, West, North and South. Gate to the Middle East and to the Black Sea. And often in the centre of attention and fought for – as spill between different worlds, as gate to other regions. Important part of Europeans history – founded by Thracians and Greeks after having hosted a Phoenician trading post before. Protected by the Roman republic – and later part of the Roman Empire to become the Capital of the Byzantine Empire when the Roman Empire split till it was conquered by the Ottomans.

As most European cities dominated by signs of the ruling class and religion. After a long Christian period (catholic and orthodox) it was turned Islamic after it became part of the Ottoman Empire. So nowadays Mosques dominate the skyline and the call for prayer sounds five times a day through the streets. But it hardly interrupts the city life anymore – and more and more the signs of a modern and secular city take over and make the skyline to the mix it is now – a mix of nature, history and today with a glimpse of the future.

But back to the now – and enjoying a last glimpse of the city while crossing the bridge. Taking with me the pictures and scents imprinted in my mind – memories of a bustling city life, a mix between modern and tradition.

A last view of the famous Topkapi palace, and the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque next to it. All are still impressive witnesses of a great past. A pity that we can’t see all them in their former glory – as always change in rulers and religion had brought destruction to the signs of the former reign. It’s like with animals marking their territory – put your own scent everywhere to distinguish everything that was there before you came … After all – it shows where humans roots are and just proofs Darwins theory I guess :-)

Passing the bridge - the first anglers start to occupy it - passing the dancing boats and the end of the bridge. Go and watch them – it’s amazing how the men still fry the fish and sell their popular balık-ekmek(fish sandwiches) will their colourful boats dancing up and down, left and right, forward and backwards. Memories pop up of the underground cisterns and the Great Bazaar in that area. Always busy and bustling, you can go for a bargain or just have a tea. But don’t forget to visit the Egyptioan Spice Bazaar at the foot of the hill – let the various scents and colour overwhelm you!

 In the back the Galata tower – with its wonderful view onto the town and the water surrounding it. Don’t stand in line there – go two corners further and enjoy the view from the terrace of the Konak Café while enjoying a drink. Further down lie Beyoglu and Taksim, the busy centre of today’s Istanbul.

There are many places to see (don’t miss out Dolmabahce Palace) but best is – as always – just go strolling through the streets just outside the main routes. I like re-visiting towns I’ve been before – no must sees, just suck in the life stream of the city and experience it. But of course – no visit to Istanbul without a stay at a traditional hamam …

It was nice being back – let’s meet again sometimes!

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