Istanbul, Oh Istanbul.
As I wrap up my Istanbul part of my voyage across Europe, I have allot to say about this beautiful city. Istanbul is truly filled with a distinct culture. One of the oldest city's in the world, it offers so much. I did not know what too accept from this city. Honestly, I thought it was going to be a lot more impoverish than it was; however, It is a bustling metropolis alive at all hours of the night. Where religious culture clash with modern day nuances. Where burka covered women roam the streets while young men/women in the latest fashion pass you by. It is a world where new and old cultures mix and live harmoniously (for the most part).
There are some distinct parts of my trip that I have to mention in this article. The first thing is to make sure to dress modestly; as any provocative clothing on a woman ( because in this we have stepped back into time and women are not seen in the same respect as men) will get you stares, dirty looks and annoying cat calls. Everyone smokes and between the countless smokers, the lack of deodorant, and various spices used in different restaurants it can get kinda smelly. Hammam's or Turkish bath houses are amazing. You instantly feel as if you stepped back to the year 1593A.D, and you are a Roman empresses being bathed by your help. It is amazing and the notion of being topless in a marble slabbed Roman esque room, tho at first may seem embarrassing, it's not, it's exhilarating. Every woman has tits, don't be shy and let them hang. The lady who bathed me was awesome we cracked jokes and she told me I was beautiful. I'm almost certain she was hitting on me...lol...jk.
Try and see all the touristy things there to see. Some are worth it and some are not, but I will let you be the judge of that. Every touristy thing I did was necessary. It gave me a true feel of how Istanbul was during the various periods of life from the Ottoman empire to the Roman take over.
The beauty of listening to the prayer calls five times a day is unreal. Every time a prayer call would be heard it would penetrate my soul. You can hear these prayers from any part of the city. As the muezzin ( a person appointed to say these prayers) will stand a top the minaret and call his followers. I felt the yearning of the call, the melodic tones of the men's voices were warm, and the spiritual aspect of it all was amazing. The faith they have is unwavering and tho I am not religious, it is appreciated and equally as beautiful.
The food for me was a hit and miss. Tho I liked lamb, by day 6 I was ready for some arroz con gandules. You'll find the same dishes over and over, and some stops are better than others, you just have to explore. Their diets lacks fruit and actual veggies, the spice is like nothing I have ever tasted before, and they are big on meats and starches. Even the strongest of stomachs will have some issues. Two out of six of us were constipated (myself included) and two more suffered really bad diarrhea. Nothing that prevented us from enjoying our time, but just make sure you know the food is def different from typical American/Caribbean dishes.
The men, what do I say, they are intense. I mean they made me feel as if I was a prude. They do not treat Turkish women the way they treat foreigner and I think it is because we are much more loose to say it lightly and have somewhat of a reputation. They will stop their cars for you, they will try and kiss you within the first 5 minutes of knowing you, they will call you beautiful and ask you if you want to have sex with them right in front of their mothers. They are horny horny bastards and sometimes may cross the line. Be coy, do flirt, but be strong and impeccable with your word and you should be fine. The language barrier can get you in some trouble, so be as direct as possible. I found that by the last few days this was truly annoying and uncomfortable. I have always been a confident big girl, but at home I do not get recognized and I thought I would not in turkey, but the men loved me and were not afraid to show it.
All in all Istanbul was enlightening for me. It taught me allot about how I handle certain situations and how strong I am. There were moments I was scared, for example when I decided to take on the town by myself, but I made it out alive. I appreciated the culture and the differences; it made me appreciate home that much more. For my taste, Istanbul is not a place I could see myself living, there are too many people, the drinks are expensive, the food is limited, and they don't use actual milk. I know you may say, “so what, they don't use traditional milk” but I never realized how much I loved milk until I had to drink carton milk (sorry call me a princess). I am glad I visited it and would never take it back. It completely took me out of my comfort level and where I could see some of my closets friends complain I tried my very best not too. Even tho those two hundred stairs I had to take uphill daily to get anywhere were a bitch and I'm pretty sure I complained about those once or twice, but it was all in jest. I love those stairs (not really) for I lost four pounds on this trip...jajajaja. I am a better person because of Istanbul and I will be forever grateful.
For all the friends I made on this trip Cathy, Wilmi, Luis, Jo, Oz, Altup and the gang, kemal and family, and Nur. Thank you, thank you for showing me a great time. It was awesome; the good, the bad, the ups and downs.
Till we meet again