October 28, 2015

Istanbul Days and Nights – The Adjustment Period

We are smitten with our little apartment in the Taksim neighborhood of Istanbul. In our state of feeling adrift and overwhelmed and mildly terrified of the journey we’ve committed to, it provides us safety and the feeling that we have some control when everything seems to be spinning faster than we can process.

From the clothes hanging on the line outside every apartment to the hustle and bustle at the market right below our window to the Turkish music that plays between classes at the school across the street or the lady upstairs who lowers a basket from her window for the delivery man next door to fill with fresh bread, everything delights us as we take in all of the new sounds and sights and smells.

laundry

It is amazing how quickly humans, when taken from the security of our daily tasks, create new routines of comfort for ourselves. We have done this in our new temporary home. Each morning Mason goes down to the market for bread and cheese and fresh fruit for breakfast. Sometimes he will squeeze fresh orange or pomegranate juice. We drag the table from the nook in the kitchen to the living room where we sit in the sunshine to eat.

We wash our laundry to hang on our own clothesline – a simple chore that brings me great joy. Eventually we’ll venture out for our daily excursion. Sometimes we will head down the hill to the tram to the Eminonu stop for the Spice Market or to Sultanhamet to visit a palace, mosque or museum. Other days we stroll along the Bosporus or stay in the hills exploring the little nooks and crannies of our neighborhood.

For lunch we will duck into a little café where Mason will ask or pantomime for a menu. We will look at the pictures and point and, like magic, something delicious will arrive at our table. On our not-so-good days, we will be seduced by the English menus in restaurants that cater to foreigners and we will pay too much for disappointing food.

In the late afternoon, we head back to the apartment and spend hours writing, creating smash books, journaling, coloring and trying to capture the things that we know are impossible to fully convey without experiencing – the incredibly beautiful and haunting sound of the call to prayer as it rolls over the rooftops, the way the fog and haze capture the feel of the city better than the sunshine, the distant shadows of huge freighters like dots on the horizon on the Sea of Marmara, the low couches slung with brightly colored pillows in the tea houses and hookah bars, the insistent pull of block after block of men aggressively trying to sell us carpets and jewelry and lamps, fresh fish, olives, pistachios and Turkish delight.

watercolor

Inevitably, some sound on the street will pull one of us to the open window where we will observe a delivery of bread to the market or the near constant honking traffic jams up and down the narrow steep road. Sometimes the lure is simply to sit and gaze down the hill at the Bosporus and daydream.

Istanbul does this to you. It is modern and exotic, thriving and crumbling, compelling and overwhelming. I think I really understand it best only in retrospect, but there is something about it that gets under your skin. Something about those serious gray mosque domes that have withstood centuries of earthquakes, something about those Ottoman yalis (mansions) on the Bosphorus, something about the energy of a city that has seen so many re-inventions.

Time moves differently here and so it is nearly 9:00 at night when we gather around the table for supper. Mason has cooked us a simple delicious meal with ingredients he has found at our tiny market – egg scrambles, spaghetti, roasted vegetables and potatoes.

dinner

We tumble into bed exhausted, but still don’t sleep well. We are trying to assimilate and adapt to this new life that we’ve planned for and dreamed of for so long, but never imagined that we would have so much trouble sinking into and we are thankful for the soft landing into our own private place that will allow us the time and space to ease in and open up to the adventure that lies before us.

mason

9 Comments on "Istanbul Days and Nights – The Adjustment Period"

  1. Dee Gamble October 28, 2015 Reply

    It sounds like you are having the time of your lives! I’m living vicariously through you ’cause you know I’ll never get out of Maxwell! LOL You are missed greatly and are talked about a lot! :-) We all love you & miss you like crazy but we know you are having too much fun being with each other on your world tour to think about or miss us very much. Love, love, love your stories! You write such good tales about your adventures. Can’t wait for the next one!
    Miss you my friend,
    Dee

    • Author

      I think about you guys and miss you all the time, Dee!! We are having a great time now that we have a little more confidence. We”ve had some amazing experiences and it’s fun to write about them so I’m glad you are enjoying them!

  2. Amy Linney October 29, 2015 Reply

    It is so wonderful to read your adventure.

  3. Tammy Harrington October 30, 2015 Reply

    I am in awe of your courage and sense of adventure!! I look forward to your next posting. Soak it all in, live one day at a time, and enjoy!!!

    • Author

      Thanks Tammy! I don’t know how brave we are – we are scared and doing it anyway! But we are having the time of our lives!!

  4. Jennfer Olson November 8, 2015 Reply

    Just stopping by to check on you! I love the opportunity to read of your travels. Stand tall and enjoy every minute of it! Until I see you again, ENJOY and TAKE CARE!
    Jen

    • Author

      Hi Jennifer! It’s good to see you here! We are definitely having a wild and wondrous adventure!!!

  5. We are also from Des Moines Iowa and visited Istanbul for 8 days last month. It is funny how similar it was for us. The first few days it is such a culture shock and overwhelming. We stayed in Balat so we had a very similar experience to you guys. By the end of the trip you feel comfortable walking around getting food / supplies but the first few days were rough! Google translate has a feature that you can use your camera to translate the signs / menus pretty much anything written in another language into English and you do not need cell service for that to work. Sadly I did not discover that till we were in France and would of killed to be able to use that in Turkey. Enjoy your travels cant wait to see more of it!

    • Author

      Oh man! I wish we had known about that too! Istanbul was definitely a slow burn for me. It took me days to really warm up to it and get a sense of its history and energy, but I’m so glad we went there!! It’s so cool to “meet” fellow travelers from home. Thanks for following along on our travels!

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