Sunday, June 12, 2011

Leaving Istanbul

Well, the ugly truth is that initially I thought I’d enjoy my time in Istanbul more. I loved it greatly when my friend and I first stopped by for 5 days in November ’10, but now I got a taste of life here. Mistake number 1 was not properly researching the area I was going to live in. I was lured in by the cheap rent (guilty as charged) and thought it didn’t matter how far it was from the European side and what the night connections looked like.

I lived in the Bulgurlu area of Uskudar, a conservative neighborhood on the Asian side. I mean there is nothing wrong with it per se, but it is an extremely suburban district where the only fun imaginable is grocery shopping and as a friend put in, you can also rent DVDs in Bulgurlu. That’s about it. I loved our local Thrursday market that was just outside the door and I loved the nearby Camlica Park, but other than that it was a pretty boring part of the city.

Also I had bad luck with the Istanbul Couchsurfing community. I got all those mass emails from the guys desperate to get laid with a foreigner, but when I tried to contact people and meet up and do something together, it didn’t really work out. I met a couple of people (out of about a dozen that I messaged), but it seemed they were a bit busy for new acquaintances, so it ended there. I was a bit surprised as this not  the CS that I know and love. And then of course it happened… In my last 2 weeks in Turkey I met some fantastic people, both local and not who made that time great by being around. We shared quite a few experiences together and of course it made me sad to leave.

Still, although I was raging about traffic and the dirty looks from men while I was there, it’s all part of Istanbul and now I miss even the things I wasn’t really fond of. But most of all I guess I miss the Bosphorus and the ferry rides. Those islands in the Marmara Sea. It feels so unusual now without the same amount of water nearby. And without any seagulls. Funny, I was also not happy about the food sold in supermarkets, but it appears I’d grown accustomed to it and now look for similar things in local supermarkets here in Russia.

But… there’s something that really, truly keeps my spirits up and it is my upcoming trip to Berlin. I set off on July 3 or 4 (depending on whether I will fly to Moscow or take the train) and wow, I am sure it will be the best summer in my life! 
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