I never intended to fall in love with you, but I did.
At first, I knew nothing about you. You seemed so far away, foreign and mysterious from my small town roots in the U.S.
You remind me a bit of my beloved NYC because you are a vast, cosmopolitan, energetic and diverse city.
But yet YOU are different and exotic. Maybe that’s what caught my attention.
Bit by bit, I got to know you. I slowly unraveled your history as I wandered through your uneven cobblestone streets, your lively neighborhood pazars and your historic sites.
The Bosphorus that cuts right through you is hard to resist – whether I’m sitting seaside with a çay or a beer, having brunch with friends or taking a vapur to the other side.
I don’t remember when, but one day it just hit me. I had butterflies in my stomach. I couldn’t stop smiling. My heart was racing.
I realized I was in love with you. Don’t worry – my husband knows!
I love exploring your nooks and crannies. I never know what surprises will be in store.
Sometimes I discover an abandoned building sagging with age but still beautiful on the outside such as my most recent discovery of the Sağır Han. I can’t help but wonder who once lived and worked there and what stories the building could tell if it could talk. Were they yabancılar like me?
I love revisiting my same shops in Eminönü for my spices and nuts and the same stalls at my pazar and being called abla (older sister). You’ve finally accepted me and embraced this yabancı into your folds.
|Spices at my favorite spice store - Ucuzcular.|
But like true love, there are days that I hate you, Istanbul.
I hate the taxi driver that won’t listen to my directions even if I repeat them in Turkish. I hate the old lady who practically pushed me over while trying to get on to the bus. I hate the cars that try to run me over as I cross the street. I hate the person that always stands on the left-hand side of the escalator as I’m trying to walk up.
I hate the crowded bus and dolmuş during rush hour. I hate the disorganization of getting on and off public transportation. I hate your maddening, congested traffic. I hate that I can’t fully converse in Turkish.
Every now and then, just like a former lover, you’ve even made me cry, Istanbul. You made me want to bury my head in my pillow and never step foot outside again.
There are truly great days here as well as truly crap days – just like anywhere in the world.
But then such a simple moment will happen as I cross the Galata Bridge and I see the fishing boats along the Golden Horn and the sun reflecting off the top of the Süleymaniye Camii and I’m awed by your beauty.
And then I fall in love all over with you again.
(Dear readers, I’ve loved living in Istanbul for nearly 3 years. In April, my husband’s job had us relocate to Warsaw, Poland. I’ve been in transition mode and finally am settling down in my new country. There will be some changes, but I hope you’ll continue to follow my expat and travel adventures here! Since I'm no longer living in Turkey, I've changed the blog name to My Traveling Joys.)
|Sunset cocktails at Mikla's rooftop bar admiring the view of the Golden Horn in Istanbul.|
|I never tire of seeing the bridges lit up at night!|