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Loco for Lokum: on assignment inTurkey The lowdown on winning the 2011 World Nomads/Rough Guides Scholarship...

A Love Affair With Istanbul

TURKEY | Thursday, 30 June 2011 | Views [2346] | Comments [1]

This morning a cool breeze rattles the streets of the city and a splatter of raindrops pound my head as I duck out of my hotel. It is as if the city knows I am leaving her and is protesting my desertion. As if in apology, I give up on my shopping plans and pace the streets instead, the same roads I blundered along on my first day here, seemingly lifetimes ago. Istanbul, once a stranger, has become familiar as an old friend.

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I walk through the bazaar where the salesmen see my determined pace and let their cries fall on other ears; through the spice bazaar, where I savour the stenches that will soon be confined to memories; to the square where the pigeons flap around scattered grain and decorate the mosque steps with splatters of white and grey.

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I feel a melancholy growing in my gut as I push each scene deep into my memory, knowing someday soon they will leave me. This is what travel is about, I remind myself, each country like taking a new lover, one that will charm you and seduce you and send you packing with just a box of photographs and keepsakes that you can revisit from time to time.

I walk further still, past the Kurdish vagabond brandishing air rifles and a wall of glass bottles for 1TL a round. Past the waiter who looks remarkably like George Clooney and so has taken his name as his own; past the sun-blushed American girls winding scarves clumsily around their heads at the mosque door and the burqa-clad mother beside them whose boisterous toddler keeps reaching to pull the veil from her mouth. I push my feet into the cobbles as if hoping to leave some invisible footprint behind forever. 

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The weather continues its dance - an icy breeze, followed by a warm arch of sunlight and a smatter of raindrops – the city’s last flirtation. I feel 
simultaneously ready to leave and desperate to stay but there’s one thing I’m sure of - Istanbul and I are not quite finished with each yet. This is one love affair I’m not quite ready to give up on.

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View from the hilltops at Eyup

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In the old city

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Backstreets of the city

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Shooting air rifles at the roadside

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One of the city's numerous mosques

Comments

1

Very nice blog full of beautiful pictures and feelings. I hope your love with Istanbul and Turkey will continue forever..

  doruk Aug 13, 2011 4:09 AM

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