“I” is for Impressive, I am for Istanbul.
I’m not sure when the last time was that a city struck me so quickly, so strongly, so impressively as Istanbul has done. We’ve only been here two days, but it is rapidly climbing my list of favorite cities.
We left the airport late on Wednesday night, and went straight to the hostel, which was well-decorated and well-run, though the room was barely wide enough for the bunkbed which was the only option. Breakfast was surprising, as I wondered how well I liked eating strong olives, eggplant casserole, and little chunks of hot dog first thing in the day.
I quickly decided that I like it very well indeed. (Specifically, I enjoy the bread with feta-like cheese, tomato and cucumber slices. And of course, the cai.)
The next morning we took the train into town, chatting with the friendly businessman who helped us buy our tickets on the Turkish-only machines. He has been to New York and Orlando, and didn’t like America. I recommended if he tries it again, this time he could head to Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Denver, the Midwest, or basically anywhere besides New York, Orlando, and Miami.
(Reminder, if you like your country, the best thing you can do for it is to be nice to tourists.)
Next was a tram, where we packed in with old women with head scarves and mustaches, young women with head scarves and baby strollers, and businessmen in black coats. I was surprised by the first beautiful mosque that wasn’t even on the tourist map. By the fourth I was just plain impressed.
Our new hotel room is (just) large enough for a normal bed, and if you lean out the window you can look right at the dome and minarets of the Hagia Sophia.
The word “impressive” comes to mind a lot in this city.