Saturday, October 20, 2007

10 Things to Enjoy About Istanbul . . .

. . . and this doesn't even include sightseeing! There will be more on that later, I'm sure.

1. Waking up and hearing under the usual citysounds of honking taxi horns and hotel hall chatter the peculiar wail of amplified calls to prayer. You just know that you aren't in Kansas anymore, Toto. So get out of the basket and walk around on your own!
2. Tiny booths tucked away in every corner and niche. Well worth the time to explore a bit, as you don't quite know what you might find. Yesterday, I was helped by two lovely young girls (no more than 12) whose English was darned near as good as mine. They were helping their father and I was quick to compliment him on his offspring.
3. Strong hot tea, served in delicate clear glass flutes.
4. Just being in a city so ancient that a 400-year-old mosque can be referred to as "new" without a trace of irony.
5. Realizing as you relax in a dim cafe, sipping a foamy cappuccino and chit-chatting with a half-dozen people from four separate countries that this is why you stay in school for so long.
6. Souvenir shopping, knowing that you're probably getting ripped off a little, but having such a good time that you don't really care all that much. Gotta buy me some street chestnuts today . . .
7. Seeing that strict religious prohibitions against making any sort of graven image still cannot halt the inherent human drive to create beauty - the architecture and decorative arts in an Islamic country are incredible.
8. Resisting the urge to allow myself to be lured into a shop that sells carpets only to ask the startled proprietor where he keeps the burnt-orange deep shag. (I blame Mark Twain for that idea - if he didn't do it, I bet he wanted to!)
9. Finishing my breakfast coffee on the hotel restaurant balcony gazing at the Asian side of the city and thinking, "Hey, I've been there."
10. Knowing that I'll take all this home with me.

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