It is the eternal question for the traveler. Or for me, anyway. I want to go home. But how long before I can come back? Anyway, at the moment I really have no home. I just spend my last 16 lira on a glass of white wine at the Istanbul airport. But there is more lira where that came from.
My last few days – with the exception of Saturday – were quite full. I did the things I wanted to do.
At the Grand Bazaar, I bought my nephews Aladdin slippers. I got hit up a lot more the second time, without Ugur, but it was all good. The guys in there were not quite as intense as the ones that followed me around the streets outside the Hagia Sophia. I got a lot of compliments and I bought what I went for. One kind of funny thing: I went into a shop in the book and art part of the Grand Bazaar to have a look. The guy in there started telling me about this woman he had in Soho New York. She was rich, Jewish and wanted to have sex all the time. She was a bunny, a dog, a monkey in bed. I have absolutely no clue why this guy was telling me all this. I asked him if he goes back and he said “no she took all my energy already.” On that note, I said sayonara. You should have heard the way he went on about this woman. Craziness.
I love the Grand Bazaar. There are all these trippy nooks and crannies. I would love to really get in there and explore one day. But you have to be in the right frame of mind to tackle something like that.
I sat in a lot of cafes. I walked and walked. I walked to Ortikoy one day and then hopped on a ferry not really knowing where it was going. It took me to the Asian side. Then I hopped on another one, kind of knowing where it was going. The ferries are only two lira a ride – a little over a dollar. So it is easy to just hop on them and ride around. I loved being on the Bosphoros with those magnificent views of the Galata tower on one side and all the mosques and craziness on the other side. Yesterday I hopped on another ferry to go to the Chora church, it is a church with a lot of Byzantine mosaics and some medieval frescoes. It was not so easy to get up there – and coming back, I walked and walked (this seems to be the story around here.) But it was worth it to see the mosaics.
Speaking of mosaics. This whole time in Istanbul I have been searching for anything Theodora. Theodora was the wife of the emperor Justinian here, in the 6th century. She is one of my favorite people in history so I wanted to find a copy of the mosaic of her that is in Ravenna or SOMETHING Theodora. But there is nothing. They don’t even know who she is here, it seems. I did see a hotel Theodora and found a paperback novel based on her in the Virgin Megastore, but the book looked really dumb so I did not buy it. I guess I will have to go back to Ravenna to get my Theodora fix.
Over the weekend, in my neighborhood just down from Taksim Square and also, over by the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market, there were so many people out. Just massive quantities of bodies. It was akin to when I was at the Vatican the day after the Pope died. I would stand against a wall and just watch the people walk by as the call to prayer sounded. It seems, that I can be invisible again, which makes me very happy.
One day I saw a girl in a white full-on burka with a bit of a raised skirt and white Converse high-tops. I left my Converse sneakers here. It was time to let them go. I put them by the garbage and I hope some homeless person can use them.
This was such a different kind of trip. Everything was so full on in my face sensory wise. Even quiet Cappadocia. I’ll even remember the dogs howling outside the Elif Star caves. I’ll remember that I never turned on a TV (though, I did watch Project Runway Season 1on my laptop.) I’ll remember how I got used to the precariousness of it all. Most of all, I will remember the people I met. They are unforgettable.
I’ll post some pictures when I get back. I can’t tell you how weird it will be to be at the Four Points Sheraton at LAX tonight. But, Onward.