Where history meets chaos and the now: Istanbul

I remember how to order pastries in Turkish, how to say “I love you”, and how to thank people.

That’s it.

That doesn’t mean that Turkey didn’t leave a mark. I remember Istanbul as this sort of young rebellious teenager and simultaneously wise old crone- mostly because it is both of those things, and every other thing in between. It is incredibly difficult to sum up a megapolis that goes between 14 and 16 million people (the official census isn’t accurate).

Riding ferries with asbestos ceilings, taking the new public transportation system (trams mixed with trains), being treated like the visitors we were, trying and then promptly despising raki (the national drink in Turkey, it’s basically black liquorice in liquid, high alcohol form, which is sometimes but not always diluted with water) were all parts of Istanbul. So was looking at a Frida Kahlo exhibition and then shopping in TopShop and eating on the 5th floor of a building, and sitting on carpets. Rain, sunshine, pollution, health and sickness, wealth and poverty, adventure and boredom- they all take place in this city.

I know these things take place in all cities, but toss in a chaotic history (Byzantium, then Constantinople, then Istanbul), multiple countries claiming reign, and it’s geographical split between Europe and Asia, and the religions laced in, and you get the most energetic and exciting city I’ve ever been to.

My advice: Be ready for anything in Istanbul. I mean anything.

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