My first full day in the megalopolis that is Istanbul and here’s what I’ve discovered.
1. You can’t walk and look up at all the awesome sites at the same time. The city is built in and among seven hills. You’re climbing up or walking down bumpy, cracked sidewalks (or no perceivable sidewalk) while dodging vehicles, people, stray cats and dog poo. Best watch where you’re going if you want to live to drink another cup of Turkish tea — which is quite good and, therefore, worth living for.
2. Turkey is the largest Muslim democracy. There’s a mosque on every corner in this city of 17 million — kind of like there’s a church on every corner in the Bible Belt. To enter a mosque, both men and women shed their shoes and women must cover their heads. I bought a white scarf in Izmir just for that purpose. Visions of Lawrence of Arabia, huh?
3. Mosques are as architecturally interesting and beautiful to me as cathedrals. Cathedrals are majestic in their cold stone. Mosques are serenely warm with their lovely carpets. Either way, I am such a sucker for stained glass.
4. The Bosphoros Strait reminds me of a cross between Lake Lanier on Memorial Day weekend and the inter coastal canals in Ft. Lauderdale — on steroids. It’s 31km long, divides Asia from Europe and connects the Black and Marmara Seas. We took a two-hour tour today and boats of all sizes and varieties seemed to be coming from every direction. While we were dodging boats large and small, we glided past some amazing palaces…
and old fortresses that used to protect the gateway between East and West.
5. We’re here for a week and it just won’t be enough time to explore this fascinating, culturally rich city.