Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Istanbul

I have spent the last day or two ?n Istanbul. I am here alone, as "E" was unable to make ?t. I am staying ?n this hotel ?n Taks?m, near Taks?m square. I landed on Monday morn?ng, and slept for the rest of monday. Monday n?ght I went to Istaklal and wandered around the market. They sell all sorts of we?rd stuff there. I saw a tray of sheep heads, and qu?te a lot of people sell?ng l?ttle jars of redd?sh-brown stuff labeled as "Turk?sh v?agra". It was all very amus?ng.

Today I went and saw a whole bunch of the Jewish stuff w?th Mahmet, my gu?de. I went to the Neveh Shalom Synagogue (wh?ch was attacked tw?ce, once ?n 1986 and aga?n ?n 2003), two other synagogues, a Jew?sh Hosp?tal/nursing home, and two Jew?sh cemeteries. I left my gu?de then went to the Jew?sh museum (where I met two older Israelis).

I took the tram back to Istaklas and had lunch at Kafe Ara, and I am now try?ng hard to deal w?th th?s Turk?sh keyboard.

Istanbul ?s an ?nterest?ng city. It ?s hard to know whether ?t belongs in Europe or ?n the Middle East. So far everyone has been pretty n?ce. I have not run in to any major problems. Gett?ng by only ?n Engl?sh ?s a bit tr?cky but not imposs?ble (It would be easier ?f I were less shy.).

Th?s c?ty seems to me to be a great sett?ng for a spy novel or f?lm. It has all the trapp?ngs that you would expect. There ?s the modern European soph?st?cat?on here and there, but there ?s also the very strong old Islam?c ?nfluence. Lots of h?story, but lots of modern?ty too. One can see how people from both the Or?ent and Occ?dent would feel at home here.

The c?ty is very secular, but every few m?nutes someth?ng rem?nds you of the Islam?c s?de of Turkey. It m?ght be the call to prayer, or the comfort that almost wherever you go, even ?f you cannot understand the menu, you are most l?kely not eat?ng pork, or the ub?qu?tous mosques.

I w?ll explore more ton?ght,

3 comments:

Josie said...

Have you met any local jews? do you feel fairly safe there? I always figured Istanbul would smell like the shuk. Do you stand out as a white guy or is Istanbul pretty colorful? Have fun and enjoy the food-are there kosher restaurants?

Joclyn said...

Why'd "E" get all punk ass on you?

Karl said...

E had some thýngs that pervented hým from going. Ýt is OK.

Ý do not really stand out here, though most street vendors can pick me out as a tourist. Ý wýll write more when there is more time.