Istanbul is lovely.

Istanbul Travel Blog

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There is a cool breeze pushed through the Golden Horn Bay from the Aegean Sea.  Istanbul is sights, sounds, smells. I often see the light of morning and am blessed with the call to prayer. Throughout the day it is said another 4 times finishing with the last at 8pm. I sit in the mosque once a day and meditate as men practice their readings of the Koran in group prayer, passing the text amongst them. Everyone sits on the ground, there is a relationship between man, earth and spirit. Islam is beautiful in that throughout the day, streams of people come to pray. The doors don’t seem to close. There is no “holier than thou” day- it is everyday. On particularly hot days, people come to just sit on the marble exterior shaded corridors around the inner mosque to feel some comfort from the sun.

Water is available to wash the feet and hands before prayer, also used to drink and cool down. Istanbul is a modern Islamic city in a modern Islamic country. There are fanatics, there is corruption, but above all there is humanity. To me this is the aura that separates east and west. This is what draws me to Asiatic culture. Though modern, people in Istanbul must be respectful of the traditional Islam. Stories make the news of beatings for short skirts, frowned upon are women seeing western men. There are beautiful women wearing revealing clothes, drinking outside in the evening, kissing men during Ramadan and they get the occasional ass-o who is pissed but generally people are cool.

There is no Utopian society, certainly not the US either. Police are in constant view, their presence is everywhere.

So many non uniformed police mix in the crowds. There is an anxiety that is not comforting. There is a feeling that something could blow up.  Daily it is what it is, play within the rules and it is good.

Constantinople is the modern day Istanbul. The name changed but the city represents exactly the same it did 500 years ago. There is a sense of humanity that flows like a strong river from the Orient. Chai men criss cross the street serving chai (tea), a break is had and men relax play a game of backgammon, maybe smoke a huka (water bong) before returning to work. Laughter is heard from a good conversation, yelling from someone in protest. The gateway of trading from Eastern cultures to the West. Eastern culture is the people, mosque, the Turkish coffee/tea, the laziness of conversation when there is business to be done.

The West represents the money flow and the problems that it brings. 

I like it here very much.  I feel so blessed to have met maybe 20 truly wonderful people that when brought together seemed even  brighter, the warmth within the group is affectionate. My friends in Istanbul are the long term travelers, people who don’t fit into niches of nationality or culture. People who rather see a world without borders, relying on humanity. Life should be romantic, displaced of borders. We are all moving on, all things are transformational. They are lovely people. All except me speak Spanish, most have some sort of talent- juggling, making jewelry, shoplifting, graffiti artist, play multitude of instruments- they have that nomadic flavor. Every night we would start at the hostel drinking, walk to Galata Square, sit with the 100 or so other people, listening to musicians and buy beer from the beer store and continue into a laughter, love and happiness.

Nightly, the wall of the hotel has become a urinal, guest complain of this and noise, the police come in soft handed. Order is preserved usually between 1-3am, and we disperse to smaller areas with beer stores in reach.  I come home around first call of prayer. Then during the late morning, I awake to chatter of  American and Canadian students who are doing their 8 city European tour discuss peanut butter and what awaits them in corporate life. For this I tense, I can’t concentrate, I can’t push them out of my ears cause they talk too silly- it kills me. I enjoy traveling, people traveling have stories, passions and romance that translates better  when half drunk

 Can’t have a proper travel story without women.

The last 4 nights, before she left on a 8 day boat cruise with French friends, I have spent at her home. I have liked French girls my whole life cause the broken English is incredibly sexy, smooth soft rhythmic. “How do you say, put your arms around me?” Now I see a modern Muslim girl from Istanbul who learned English from the French. It doesn’t get better. It is even cooler cause it is really unlikely that a Muslim girl will date a Western man. I like how it is. I like the fact we only speak when we have thought about what we want to say, we don’t say what we can’t explain now, we must be patient with each other, and our body language and senses must be more acute to the others needs.  Nothing is exactly understood, the gap that lies between what was said and what is understood leads you to imagine, creates a mysterious meaning.

For example, talking about last time we had sex…  she says 2months ago and then a from a prior discussion spurts out 10 people. I think wow this is a lot of info (are we being so honest?). She sees my bewilderment and says… in my life. This is human nature- talk about numbers, there must be a x4 rule for girls. Guys, who really knows. 

I mentioned she was on a boat cruise for 8 days. Yes, and so passion and a beautiful 19 year old Parisian girl who think I am Jack Kerovac can not go ignored. “Hey there Jack Kerovac!” She has hair under the arm (I have always liked), will start uni for acting (like), fucks like a whore (definite A+), also likes my sweat and male smell.  She’s hot, everyone here knows she is.

She has a boyfriend in Paris and she is young enough to remember me the next 60 years which may make me an existentialist. I just really enjoyed the fact of having sex with a girl more than half my age, one day on one day off, and calls me Kerovac.

This is good cultural exchange, should be made between people all over the world. I am still a free spirit till the end. It is at an intensity I like, I pour everything I have into both cause (I can thank you) I know our time is short and they feel the same.

My lovely Turkish girl I bought a Tom Robbins novel for (in Turkish) cause a girl so cool should read Tom Robbins. She is brilliant, loves the book. She kisses as good as her conversation. I am so impressed with her ideas, her knowledge, her intimacy with herself and I.

It is quite beautiful watching.  

 So I consider how much I like the call to prayer 5 times a day, Eastern culture, the constant influx of new everything and this woman so… I found 2 university jobs paying decently. Then I consider my parents 50thwedding anniversary next June, the places I have yet to see and the clock ticking as I pass time doing anything else but travel. My decision is made, I stay with her when she comes back Sunday night, leave on Tuesday. I will make up my next sign (thanks Chris for the super duper Marker) EDRINE/BULGARIA. Nothing like hitching.

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photo by: Memo