I enjoy Istanbul. It's true that I haven't seen the whole city yet, nor have I spent weeks there. We stop on our way to somewhere else, which seems crazy considering the city's history and wealth of things to see and do. We stay a few days, visiting this ancient site and that, sample local foods, and sip hot tea and raki.
This year, we gave the bazaars a chance. We're not big on shopping. For me, it seems a horrid waste of time, especially vacation time. But in the Grand Bazaar, it's an adventure. I'm terrible at bargaining. The vendors take one look at me and know I'm theirs for the taking. But this year my sister-in-law was with us and she's a genius at it. We prowled the bazaar together one afternoon and I'm not exaggerating when I say that in the end, the shopkeepers were paying her! They were throwing in free this and free that at her request or demand, even after slashing their prices most astonishingly. I didn't feel guilty because they didn't seem in the least bit disappointed. The goods were tantalizing, too, even without going deep into the serious stuff such as leather, carpets, antiques. We had a lovely time choosing beautiful silk scarves, spices, Turkish Delight, and souvenirs.
In early October, the weather was pleasant and cool. The streets were clean. The people were great. I've heard less than flattering stories about the people from other travelers, but in our experience, they've been friendly, helpful, eager for life and laughter, and very often cosmopolitan. They're a wondrous mix, too. with fascinating backgrounds and experiences to share.
It's nice to be able to stop in Istanbul on the way to somewhere else, but it's far more than just a layover. It's a spectacular destination in its own right. I'm already looking forward to our next trip.
Surely, the past, present, and future connect in this miraculous state we call life. In this light, history and all human experience are ever-present. Wouldn't it be nice, then, if we could enjoy each other, if we could appreciate and celebrate our differences? Let us love! Let us have fun. Let us toast each other and wish each other well. Now, in our awareness, is the time to be happy, to do our best, to live fully to our purest, highest standards.