June 20, 2012

Istanbul Update #1

As all of you know I came to Europe about three weeks ago, and right after one week of getting settled in and seeing dear friends and relatives again I headed more east to Turkey. Respectively to Istanbul.
For two weeks I literally ate way too much, drank a little too much too (mostly water and tea, and some Turkish coffee and, okay, wine!), shopped a little, spoke a little (I get shy when I don't think I master the language well enough, so I usually said nothing...), got sick (stupid stomach flu!), and well, enjoyed every single second of this nearly 20-million-inhabitant city.

It's that enormously huge, and also that enormously crazy.

Yes, this is Istanbul.

Unfortunately, when you visit a city for the millionth time you do not take as many pictures as you would if you visited it for the first or even second time. You take pictures, but you take different kind of pictures. 
The rest remains mentally stamped in your brain. 
My brain is full of mental pictures, trust me.

I knew you guys were desperate to know where I was, and what I saw.
And yes, I tried hard to take a few shots so you'd see parts of this crazy city...
...the good parts, and the beautiful parts.

What astonishes me every single time I'm there is its history.
As Ashley quickly mentioned while she was guest posting for me, Istanbul is the only city in the world that lies on two continents and is separated by the Bosphorus. 
Just that alone makes it awesome.
Crossing over makes it even more awesome.
And seeing buildings, and streets that are indeed thousands of years old...
...well, my friends, it makes you speechless.

It never ever changes. I stand or sit somewhere overlooking the city, or parts of it, and it happens...
...a tear or two falls down my cheek because the vast history and loud, beautiful craziness of Istanbul touches me and shows me that I am alive and that no matter what I think or believe the city is mine.  

 The Golden Horn 
*not the Bosphorus*

 The Bosphorus

 There's no real way to describe this city.
You have to see and feel and smell it on your own.
None of my dear friends have been to my city.
They are missing out.
I hope one day they will.
I hope one day you will, too.

It is not Turkey, and yet, it is.
It is not like New York, or Paris, or Lisbon, or San Francisco and yet it is.
Istanbul embodies the world.
And don't think because I love this city so much I make stuff up.

You walk through the streets and see all kinds of people...
...a mixture of everything and everyone you wouldn't even see in the biggest US city.
You walk through the streets and see the poor begging for money, the middle-class just hoping to be rich, the rich just hoping to be richer, the super rich with their luxury bags and sunglasses, the religious, the foreigners from Saudi Arabia all veiled so you can't see anything, the western tourists dressed oddly and preferably wearing a backpack, the western tourist trying to blend in, the eastern tourist trying to blend in, the Russians, the Japanese, the Koreans, the Americans, the Germans, and the many other people mastering to walk on the cobble stoned streets.
You see the fancy-dressed teenager on summer break on her cellphone standing next to a super religious, super covered woman...and then right after that a short-wearing-white-legged tourist with his camera around his neck. Those contrasts are the best.
They make me smile.

When you sit in a car and slowly drive through old town (which we did, and I did not drive but enjoyed the traffic jam!! - nothing like L.A. btw!) and you have time like I did...you watch people.
Who doesn't like watching people.
I love watching people.
You see the white-legged tourist with his camera standing next to a covered woman who isn't amused by his bare legs (okay, I wouldn't be either!), and isn't amused by the rich Turkish girl standing next to her talking on her cellphone wearing an almost see-through summer dress. 
But I am amused because I see these three people embodying Istanbul. 
And then a few steps further you see a couple fighting. 
He is desperately trying to tell her something, or make her do something. 
She doesn't respond. She stares into nothing. She ignores him.
Then she sees me in the car looking at her.
Her guy is still talking to her.
She still ignores him.
She rolls her eyes.
Still looking at me.
And I...

This is Istanbul.
I have more...
...and more will come.
Including more of my personally taken pictures.
Any other ones are nicely linked back to where I found them.
Because again, I took lots of mental pictures.
Just like the girl and guy fighting over nothing I assume.
I wasn't listening.
I know I should have!



Why Girls Are Weird said...

Wow how gorgeous... looks like a really glorious place.

Unknown said...

what a great sentiment towards a city! I'd only be so lucky to get to visit one day.

Tiffany said...

Beautifully written. I'm excited to hear more and see your pictures!

Jamie said...

Just reading this, makes me so excited to get back there.

Meghan said...

It sounds like the people watching is just priceless! I had no idea Istanbul was such an unique city:)

Christianna said...

Selma, this is such a beautiful post! It made me feel like I was there, seeing what you were seeing and it made me want to travel even more!

Christianna said...

Selma, this is such a beautiful post! It made me feel like I was there, seeing what you were seeing and it made me want to travel even more!

Unknown said...

Now I've got to add Istanbul to my to visit list. Traveling so much since I've been here just makes me hungrier for travel. I love the way you have described the city, it makes it sound magical.

his little lady said...

what beautiful images! all this makes me want to do is travel now. adore!
xo TJ

Elle Sees said...

id love to visit there

Amy Shaughnessy said...

That night shot is incredible!


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Leeann @ Join the Gossip said...

I had NO clue! I just picture ALL of Europe (I know that's bad) to be old, historical buildings. Maybe because I love history and ours doesn't go back that far.

So beautiful though! Glad you had a good time...aside from the flu :(

Ashley said...

GREAT post. You've captured Istanbul so well!! I'm itching to go...

Carol {Everyday Delights} said...

Love this post!

Crazy Shenanigans-JMO said...

The photos look like it was AMAZING! Now you've made me want to visit!

Al said...

Selma - perfect. That is Istanbul in a way I could never describe it. Kudos to you, love. Best city in the world.

Sierra said...

I think I am in love with Instanbul just from reading about your adventures and seeing the pictures. Stunning!!


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