We arrived in Istanbul, early, barely, and still slightly intoxicated from the night before (okay maybe, that was just me and Charlotte). Most importantly we arrived, and to a city unlike any I have ever visited. After a treacherous cab ride (which doubled as a lesson in Turkish) and an aggressive uphill walk to Galata Tower (well worth the sweat), we were front and center, looking out over the “City of the World’s Desires” from the most perfectly positioned rooftop imaginable. After just one week, there are a million things I could say about Istanbul, the fascinating division of the neighborhoods, the seemingly constant call to prayer, cobblestone staircases layered with cats on every available inch, the commonplace of Çay and dense kahve, and of course the intoxicating aromas of exotic spice.
But of all these new and wonderful surroundings, the energy is what overwhelmed me. People were so amiable and intrepid in their ways; it put me constantly at ease. From our cab driver, to the strangers on the street we asked directions, the residents of Istanbul have heads on their shoulders that they would rather lose than be unable to help you in some way. To that point, I am certain that the chefs and food gurus we encountered were made successful by that very self-assurance. Each one had faith in their trade, be it blogging, running a restaurant, harvesting honey, or cooking on television. Each one did it their way, followed their heart, and found their own perfection while refusing to let anyone tell them differently. But even more generally, I felt that poise and conviction throughout the city, in kind gestures and pleasant glances. Blame the constant caffeine intake of an hourly Çay mixed with the pleasant diet of Mediterranean perfection – or maybe the rare drizzle of rain that was indubitably blown away and followed by sunshine and blue skies. Whatever it is that makes you hum, keep it up Istanbul, you won our hearts until next time.