Isn’t it odd however much one knows it will be different, one is always surprised at weather change? I couldn’t believe how cold the wind and rain was in Ireland after my sojourn in the sunny warmth of Istanbul. Always expect the unexpected, people say, and I never do. I certainly didn’t expect Istanbul to be like it was either.
It is an eclectic city, full of mosques, mosaics, carpets, teas, spices, Turkish delight, sweetmeats, flowers, trees, sea and sun with a delicious assortment of nationalities.
I loved the mosques: white stone, beautiful domes, minarets to be found on practically every street corner. The Blue Mosque was particularly mesmerising. It was how I imagine space to be in daylight. A vast central dome tiled in exquisite tiny blue tiles. A beautiful natural light made to sparkle with a low cast iron chandelier. A red carpet. Light and space and nothing else.
The Aye Sofia was also breath taking. It is a wonderful creation of shapes…so many shapes. Squares in circles, triangles in squares, ovals in triangles, squares shaped into ovals. A glorious conglomeration of Islamic and Christian shifting shapes.
I also loved the ‘Call to Prayer’. The first was at 5.15am, then 10.15am, 1.15pm, 5.15pm, 10.15pm. The wailing of the imam set off a rhythmic roll across the city that made me feel a part of place despite the hundreds of different nationalities.
That was something else I enjoyed. There were so many different tourists: Chinese, Asian, Egyptian, English, French, American, Australian. No one nationality prevailed. What did prevail was the use of selfie sticks. People walked around, arm held out in front, staring at themselves in the camera rather than the detail of the glorious antiquities. Mad. The Turks themselves I found very friendly. They walked with me inquiring after my nationality and family, telling me of wonderful places to go before dragging me into their emporiums to drink glasses of apple teas while trying to sell me carpet after carpet of wonderful colour and design. I know it’s their culture and very nice it is too. Actually, I quite liked the hustle. In fact, if you want my attention you can call me ‘Beautiful Lady’ or ‘Lady in Pink’. It seems I respond to both, particularly if fresh fish and Turkish wine are involved!
I wonder how the Bosphorus can be so blue when it is teeming with ferries, cargo ships, Cruisers, fishing boats, trawlers and even a Destroyer limbering up the river. Frenetic activity everywhere – going here, travelling there. Istanbul is a city of light and motion, voice, art, sunshine, decay and modernity inhabited by a people who seem clever, ambitious, wry and very family orientated – just like the rest of us. That is what struck me most while I meandered through days peopled by men and women of different hues and cultures: how each and every one of us are so similar. We really are all the same.