So thankful to have a local, Aran (brother in law to my friend Catherine,) show us around. We explore Ortakoy--a beautiful town on the Bosphorus. We visit a modern mosque and we are enamored by the beauty and perfection. Rumeli Castile is a retreat for us. Away from the hustle and bustle of Istanbul. It's a serene, peaceful castle right on the ocean. We hike to the top (and have really sore thighs the next day.) It's a place for us to contemplate our travels, our lives, the state of being alive.
I meet a wonderful woman up at the top--an American NGO worker stationed in Afghanistan. We have an amazing conversation--and I feel like I've been given a glimpse into a that world--a straightaway look into what's really happening over there. I'm hopeful and saddened all at once. What a gift to be on top of the world discussing politcs and getting a view of a sometimes unattainable understanding of such a complex situation across the globe. Ah the gift of travel.
We have tea by the water, and I fall in love with a golden retriever named Kiraz (cherry.)The harbor cruise on the Bosphorus brings about a meditative momentum. The movement of the water. The glistening reflections, waves of the Turkish flag. After the ferry, I have a baby rabbit thrown into my arms by a vendor outside the dock. After petting him, I am given my fortune on a small slip of paper. In muddle English, it says something about being graced with the beauty of small things in life. I pay a few Lyra and the fortune whirls in my head. I am filled with appreciation for the small things at this very moment. And I realize that the tiny ones are the biggest and most important things of all.
That night we have dinner at a local cafe in Takshim Square--ah, the eggplant, bread, rice, hummus, borek, all mezze-style (tapas) at the outdoor cafe. It's bustling with people, and as the sun goes down, we feel electric.
At the Galata Tower (which once was the place of the call to prayer here 5 X a day,) the sun sets. With swifts circling the tower, I feel straight out of a thriller--Alfred Hitchcock or Stephen King. It's a magical moment--and Nic and I decide to stay and have margaritas there. The magic lasts for hours through laughter and friends (we see Jen and Steve again,) and hilarious recollections of our travels. The perfect night in Istanbul.
We are SO THANKFUL to Aran for spending the whole day shopping, tour-guiding and ATTEMPTING to teach us Turkish! What a guy!