Ok, so Istanbul is my jump off point for rambling travel through the Balkan States. No raving from me about the incredible monuments and sites, I will leave that to the thousands of others who have articulated everything and anything I might write. Instead, here are some of my favourite moments…
It’s late spring, and flowers are in bloom everywhere. Roses, bright red, impossible yellow, pink pink pink, appear in every garden, from a thousand window flower boxes, and in every unlikely corner and patch of earth. Walking through a park, in the middle of a city of 15 million people, I was suddenly overcome and made dizzy by the scent of hundreds of roses inexplicably releasing their gorgeous perfume.
One day, I walked for miles, and came across a wedding. The bride and groom were happy to pose for a mad woman with a camera… though some family members were definitely perplexed!
The view from one of the windows of the Aya Sofia almost made me cry. Maybe it was because I’d just been admiring the mosaic of the Archangel Gabriel… but in my mind I could see everything that was ever seen through this window.
The view from Anadolou Kavagi [puff puff puff up a very steep hill to the ruins of a castle to take this picture], on the Asian side of the Bosphorous River, is breath-taking. Amazingly, on the return boat journey I spotted dozens of dolphins cavorting through the water as they headed back out to the Black Sea.
The denial of Armenian genocide by the Turks during World War I is fairly common. French President Sarkozy recently tried to pass a law that criminalised it’s denial, but it was defeated as unconstitutional. I came across this strange effigy, and I am not sure I understand the meaning… is it supporting the truth of the genocide, or perpetuating it’s denial?
My very favourite architecture in Istanbul. The old wooden houses from the Ottoman era. It’s unbelievable to me, unthinkable really, that there are so many of these places that are just falling apart and being left to ruin. This one clearly is still inhabited, but falling apart all the same. They’re the minarets from the Blue Mosque in the background.
Finally… Turkish men and women are absolute fashionistas. Seriously, who could possibly resist a man wearing a pair of these shoes…