Friday, June 8, 2007

First Impressions

Reached our quaint little hotel in Taksim Square and crashed for the morning. Woke up and went for a walk in Taksim Square. The weather was absolutely fabulous. The cool breeze felt wonderful on my skin. The scores of pigeons on the square reminded me of Trafalgar Square in London as my son hesitantly ran through their ranks. The pigeons hopped a little distance away giving my son a rather baleful look.

Saw a shoe shine guy whose shoe shine box took my breath away – it was a brass plated quaint box with a number of brass topped bottles (will post a photo once I finish downloading the memory chip). If I weren’t wearing keds, faith I would’ve had my shoes shined!

Had lunch in a small cafĂ© on Istiklal Caddesi which served what seemed the most delicious meal I had eaten in a while – hot lentil shorba, a hummus (chick peas) curry, a heavenly aubergine, garlic and tomato preparation and some rice.

First impressions?

Very different scenery as you drive from the airport to the heart of the city. Its very lush and green compared to the beak but compelling brown of the dessert back home,

Very Mediterranean especially the white washed houses,

The azure Bosphorus and the glorious Marmara

Gorgeous weather with a nippy cool breeze that caresses your skin,

Quaint mix of the modern and Arab but definitely more European,

NO headscarves (despite Turkey being 98% Muslim),

Architecture though Muslim, yet not as Arab as you see in the Gulf and the Middle East,

People have European coloring but slightly Arabic features

Women definitely not as pretty as back home in Cairo,

Secular state but divided on community lines – conflict with the Armenians and the Kurds

Taksim Square bustling with activity, open air concert with live bands, very European

Quaint streets lined with shops selling lots of food

Mouth watering shwarma tempting even a vegetarian like me!

Istanbul, I love the feel and smell of you!!

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