According to the map, Carrefour looked like it was a five minute walk away from the apartment I’m staying at in Taksim. Little did I know, Istanbul’s winding streets at 85-degree inclines would turn my walk to get water and provisions into an ass-kicking, glute-burning workout that let me know just how out of shape I am. Good thing there’s all the baklava in this country to keep me chubby.
My first impression of Istanbul is loud, lively, crowded, and kinda dirty. Good or bad, I’m not sure yet, and cities can’t be categorized that easily, anyway. All I’m sure of is that I’m so excited/nervous/overwhelmed/ecstatic to be here.
Walking from where the Havatas bus dropped me off at Taksim Square, I saw restaurants, cafes and shops lining the major streets, with real live people eating in them. All of the food looked absolutely mouth-watering, and I very nearly stopped in a couple pastry shops for sustenance. I need to pace myself–I am SO looking forward to this city’s food. Contrary to what I was told to expect, I wasn’t bombarded with marriage proposals or catcalls from every street corner, save the the occasional leery old man. But it’s only Day One.
The streets are full of kids playing football and their rowdy laughter can be heard from blocks away. Women sit on the curbs talking and smoking. Guys trudge in groups up steep sidewalks, wandering in and out of the street as cars honk and pass. A pen of ducklings in front of a barbershop. A man making frying flatbread to sell from the grill strapped to the back of his motorbike. Rich; that’s what I know of this city so far.
Not speaking the language at all is easier somehow than fighting to string together proper pronouns and ghosts of conjugated verbs. Here, i can just smile and say hello and ask what I need to ask. I’m going to look up some basic Turkish phrases though, along with how to pronounce them. Some of the characters…I’ve never even seen before. I say street names according to how they would sound phonetically in English, flagrantly disregarding any flourishes or accents the letters may have.
Tomorrow I’m doing the sightseeing thing, hopefully starting the day with some good Turkish coffee (I can get that anywhere, right?). Tentatively, Friday will be my Bazaars Day, and Saturday I’m going to a hammam without a doubt.