Sunday, August 18, 2013

Cafe culture and Turkish coffee, Istanbul


I've been struggling with words lately.  And when I call back to our time in Istanbul, when I try to explain my impressions to friends and family, I tend to ramble in some incoherent manner a mix of thoughts, incongruent expectations, and longings.  Modern Istanbul, with its cafe street culture, cobblestone streets, and numerous mosques dotting the horizon, sweet shops, and tea gardens where men spend afternoon hours over games of backgammon, presents an obvious charm.

But it took some days--a few ferries rides between the European and Asian side of the city (where I had my best meal), several walks through Beyoğlu, and a trip to Cappadocia--to win me over.  Win me over it did.

Istanbul was a destination on my list two previous times. The first was during my train trip from Beijing to St. Petersburg.  I had a half-baked idea to travel from St. Petersburg to Istanbul, which I didn't do.  The second time was three years ago, when Ethan and I did part of our Silk Roads trip.  He and his brother were climbing Mount Blanc, and we considered starting our leg in Istanbul.  Instead, we met in Almaty and traveled east.

I am rambling again.  I confess that some days I feel as if Cambodia smacked the succinct, logical, linear-thinking lawyer right out of me.

Today my Istanbul memories center on Turkish coffee, mud-thick and strong, oft-served with Turkish delight.  I'm also thinking of the many cups of tea I drank in that city.

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