Sunday, March 27, 2011

I've fallen in love with Istanbul

There is nothing like stepping off of a plane onto a taxi and driving into a whole new world to make you realize how blessed you are. Istanbul has been a trip of a lifetime for me, two days after I have returned home, I am still sitting here in awe of her. It’s not that I am in awe of her beauty, as I have seen many beautiful things in my life, but it’s more that I am in awe of her soul. She is spiritual yet modern, Eastern and Western, coastal, free loving, embracing, awe inspiring, historical, kind, caring, multi cultural, empathetic, musical, colorful and distinctively her own. Words cannot express my new found love for Istanbul and I can only hope that one day I will be lucky enough to be able to call it home, even if it is only for awhile.
First I want to clear one thing up. I think in America we have such a skewed and distorted vision of what Turkey is and who her people are. I know that I approached her timid and unsure, having heard bad things about her culture. .. I know that many of my family members were worried about me being there. All I can say is that I have never felt safer overseas. Turkish people are beautiful, friendly and spiritual. Lost in the city with only a confusing map to guide you? You need not worry; some amazingly kind Turkish gentleman will stumble upon you and guide you to where you are going with a smile on his face, making you believe he is more happy to help you than you are relieved to not be lost and stranded. The Turkish soul is a kind, happy soul. The happiness of the Turkish people is palatable. Smiles are not saved only for friends as they are in Armenia, no they are shared with the world because how can one hide his happiness? Just being around Turkish people made me feel ten pounds lighter and free. They do not wish to share their troubles with you, instead they wish to celebrate their happiness with you. As a good Turkish friend that I made told me “Shit is in the past. You have to let it go if you want people to see you have a good soul.”
My decision to come to Istanbul was made with ease and decisiveness. In a way it has always been a part of my soul. When I was a little girl I loved nothing more than to shut myself in my room and read books. The books that I feel the most in love with spoke of foreign lands that a little girl growing up in poor Azusa California can only imagine. No one in my family had ever travelled, so everything I learned about the world came from books. My favorites were about the Roman Empire. I loved mixes of history and fiction. I would even credit my interest and good grades in history to my love of reading. Most of what I learned in school about the Roman Empire I had already read about in books. They of course were often fictional so they constantly left me in wonder. Looking back to my past, the best books anyone ever gave me were picture books of Italy. When I was little there was no internet and this was the only way I could ever imagine seeing the world. I would look through the books and pray to God that he would someday allow me to experience it with my own eyes. As time passed and I graduated college, all my friends travelled abroad and I sat at home looking through their pictures with a jealous heart. I began to believe I would never have the money to see the beauty of the world with my own eyes.
But now I am here and have the opportunity of a life time. My trip to Istanbul has helped me to see that the fairy tales and histories I read as a little girl are still such a big part of my heart and that my heart will not be happy until I have fulfilled my dreams. This trip to Istanbul has opened up my mind and my heart and restored my inner peace. I can’t wait to share some of my stories with you! But for now some pictures will have to do!

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations Alyssa! Very well written article and I am happy for your well-being. Anything first-see in travel can be amazing, subsequent visits would not be so amazing and so alluring. The inhabitant of Istanbul are mostly Turkified and Islamized Greeks, Armenians, Italian latins and other Christians who had historical roots there before the Turkish conquests. So they are a mixture of races. Someday all Istanbul will be under water and be no more but your Lord God is forever. Papik