I'll be quoting liberally from my travel journal. It's the easiest way to tell the story. That writing will be in italics. Real time writing will be regular. I'll switch off. You'll get confused and curse me. Ready? Here we go!
August 31, 2010
…eventually we landed in Istanbul. I was shocked by the HEAT. The air was thick and humid. Fortunately the airport is a model of efficiency. Obtaining the visas then getting our passports stamped was a breeze. Our driver Ramazan was waiting with a sign, "MARIANNE" He whisked us to our apartment in Cihangir on a breathless and daring ride through Istanbul's crowded streets. We bumped along faster than seemed possible, swinging around corners, careening down hills, then finally screeching to a stop in front of our apartment. Elif stuck her head out the window and motioned us up. Unfortunately the ride from the airport did not include Ramazan hefting my bag up the spiral staircase. Shite.
The apartment is smaller and slightly shabby, not quite like the photos, but the view…the view is undeniably magnificent. In one sweep of the eye you take in Sultanamet across the Golden Horn and looking in the other direction across the Bosphorus, to Asia.
Yes. We're here. The long long journey across 2 continents has ended. After an entire day of having my extra large body squished into an extra small plane seat I can finally stretch out and MOVE. I need a shower, but my eyes feel like they've already been washed staring out across the Bosphorus.
Water, water, water as far as you can see. All the way out to the Sea of Marmara. We have landed somewhere new.
I'm worried about the heat, but we've stopped moving and after a cold shower I'm sure to cool down at least a few degrees. After being in the apartment less than an hour we heard our first call to prayer and rushed out to the balcony. Oh, oh, oh. A more beautiful sound I can't remember hearing. A droning warbling melody that reaches in and presses something on my heart.
I made this short video while at the Blue Mosque one day. In each part of the city the call to prayer is slightly different depending on which mosque you are nearest. One night we saw the actual muezzin going into the mosque down the street from our apartment to sing out the call of prayer. He disappeared inside the closed mosque and 1 minute later the call began.