And then, the trip was over. Shortly before 11am, I zipped up my luggage, tied my shoes tight, checked out of the hotel, walked to the metro, rode back to the airport, said "goodbye," and got on my flight bound to Paris, then Canada (on Canada Day - how perfect!)
It's never easy to sum up an experience like this. I hope that these photos and thoughts give a glimpse into Istanbul life, and hopefully make someone's visit that much more enjoyable. And hopefully that someone is you!
Before I go, here are few notes that I've scribbled in my journal over the past week that I'll never forget:
- Muslims pray five times per day, and the mosques announce a call-to-prayer over loudspeakers. The sound carries over the hills and through the city. It's a little jarring at first, but you'll find it becomes normal part of the day. (I kind of miss it now.)
- Don't flush the toilet paper. Put it in the garbage.
- Turks love Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic. He's everywhere. Read up on him. And whatever you, don't disrespect him in public.
- There is no YouTube in Turkey (because of videos posted that insult Atatürk. No joke.) UPDATE 31 Oct 2010: YouTube ban lifted!
- You won't see cigarettes on TV - they get blurred out (or blotted with a smiley face).
And, some final words of wisdom:
- Every person everywhere deserves dignity and respect.
- Everything you think you know could be wrong.
- Unless you're dying or in danger, you probably don't need to worry about it.
- There's always time for çay.
- Aqueducts are amazing, but so is air conditioning.