I’ve always wanted to visit Istanbul. There’s the whole East meets West thing going on, quite literally with the meeting point of Europe and Asia. Everyone I know who has been has said that it’s like New York was thirty years ago. There’s a vibe to it. As if something is always happening as the city grows and evolves and changes. I saw a film called ‘Crossing the Bridge’ some years ago, and it always stuck with me how vibrant and alive it looked. It was definitely somewhere for a Euphoric Flowers exploration.
The taxi driver thought he was Ayrton Senna, but we made it to the hotel. We were staying in this area called Beyoğlu – it’s the area from the Golden Horn to Taksim Square and was the main European settlement area. It’s now quite trendy. Of course, being Istanbul, there’s an area inside the area and our small district is known as Cihangir, a little bit away from the glitzy bars at Taksim Square.
I like a characterful hotel, yes I do, but I really have the taste for all mod cons. I want Wi-Fi, charge points, an ensuite to die for and a view. I don’t ask for much do I? The Witt Istanbul Suites has it all and then some. Suite 52 was like being in a movie with a picture postcard view to boot. We could see Istanbul in front of us with the Bosphorus beyond that.
We ate near to the hotel on the first night and it was Meze heaven. Succulent lamb and stuffed vine leave – Aubergine dips and pinto beans. Delicious! Then back to the hotel bar for a well earned gin and tonic!.
Waking up the next morning was something I will never forget. The room was quiet but outside, you could hear the Imam’s calling the faithful to prayer. Hearing these cries going across the city, all slightly out of sync with each other, was something I have never really heard before. I woke thinking ‘where on earth am I?’ it was that strange to me. Ands once I remembered where I was, I had to go onto the balcony and hear it all. It really was a quite thrilling experience, like being in your very own Blade Runner film.
Next day we were up early for Turkish omelettes (Menemen) and then we were off. The hotel booked us a taxi driver who didn’t feel the need for speed so we could see some of the sights on our way to the Blue Mosque. We passed the nearby Galata tower, a Genoese strategic building, and crossed the Galata Bridge with all of the men fishing from the top. The area round the Blue Mosque is touristy and yet it feels more akin to the grounds of York Minster or Salisbury Cathedral. It’s that magical weight of history. And for a film fan like me, there’s the connection with the best ever James Bond film, From Russia With Love.
I could go on and on about Istanbul. There was so much to see and do, but it also had that air of vitality about it. This was a metropolis on the edge of two vast continents, and it felt like there was an incredible mix in the air. It was on my list for a reason and it didn’t disappoint. I might just have to add it again. Euphoric? Yes!.