I want to go to a museum. Right now. In this, a museum-less town, I want, at this very moment, to be in a room full of rich tapestry. I want to behold the majestic sparkle of centuries old crystal chandeliers. I want to witness the struggle of crackling paint as it is firmly held in place by the efforts of several hundred restorations and conservations. I want to marvel at the structural genius of an architectural masterpiece. I want to imagine the Monarchs, the Sultans, the Royals and the dignitaries that walked the very floors on which I stand. Isn’t there something so fascinating about that thought?
Yet, there is also something so frustrating about being in a town that cannot feed your fixation for History simply because it is a town in its youthful prime. Don’t get me wrong, I love Abu Dhabi. Not only because it is my home but also because it is at least several hundred years ahead of other Arab countries and in my opinion has so much to offer in the way of Art and culture. Just within the past couple of weekends I have been to an amazing Andrea Bocelli concert, was pleasantly entertained by the performance of a Cuban ballet dancer- Carlos Acosta, had the privilege of having my ears resonate with the sounds produced by the ridiculously talented Alfredo Rodrigo, then hopped on a plane to go to Jazz at the Lincoln Centre in Doha followed by witnessing a riveting performance by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra of the “Overture from The Bartered Bride” by Bedrich Smetana which was an instant love at first hearing for me if there is such a thing. *Sigh* Needless to say my void for music and culture has been graciously filled.
But History, my friend, is a fixation that still gurgles within the depths of my gut. Despite the fact that it has now been several hours since I first started writing this post. Despite the fact that I have experienced several other surges of emotions in one morning alone, such as the tidal wave of anger and desperation that washed over me as Firefox crashed before my eyes. As I maniacally tried and miserably failed to retrieve any auto-saves of my post I yelled obscenities at my computer screen reminding Firefox why NO ONE uses it! And while I helplessly try to scribble down what I remember of my post that passed away not more than an hour ago, and fiercely re-type this time in Chrome… my sadness still lingers. The sadness that stems from a desire of being in a far off land, amidst the structures built by a people from an era in which my soul might once have lived. But alas, sometimes the only option one has is that of reminiscing.
And reminisce I shall! About a trip I once went on a long time ago to the beautiful town of Istanbul. At the risk of sounding clichéd, I will go so far as saying that Istanbul might even be one of my most favourite places to visit. However, the state of my gloom is as such that it no longer permits me to write any more. Therefore, this will have to be more of a picture-story.
I present to you the artistic wonder that is Istanbul. One of the courtyard domes from Süleymaniye Mosque.
The Galata tower past the gorgeous Bosphorous.
Friday prayer in the majestic Suleymaniye Mosque.
Suleymaniye Mosque courtyard, minarets and domes.
Whirling Dervish show at Hodjapasha. What an interesting little joint in a back alley with performances in the basement!
The most delicious coffee I have ever had was at Fazil-Bey in Kadikoy. An awesome and totally hipster little cafe where I was welcomed by these wonderful guys running the joint and all this artisinal coffee!! Magnificent! Turkish hospitality at it’s best.
Breathtakingly magnificent – Hagia Sophia
Sultan Ahmet Mosque aka Blue Mosque with a beautiful blue night sky in the background…
…and it’s gorgeous interior.
Heaven on a plate at Selim Usta. If that doesn’t make your mouth water then there is something wrong with you. Look for this this place across the street from the Hagia Sophia. You will definitely be back for more.
More mouth-watering amazingness!
And That!!! OMG. This potato awesomeness is called a Kumpir and can be easily found anywhere in Istanbul. I grabbed this on the shores of Kadikoy. It’s basically a giant baked potato loaded with couscous, olives, cheese, mushrooms, beetroot, pickles, butter….oh man! Om nom nom!
Random kids on a school trip who wanted to be in my photo at the Basilica Cistern. I happily obliged!
Interiors of Rustem Pasha mosque.
One of my most favorite memories from the trip was accidently stumbling upon this magical little street just off of the Galata Tower – Galip Dede Street. This fantastic little stretch of cobblestone is lined with little hipster music stores and lots of other random knick knack stores and family owned shops with roadside trios performing in the midst of a plethora of passers-by all the while avoiding traffic making way through random alleyways. It is absolutely sublime how hipster this street is!
Lastly, the whole reason behind my feeling this way is because this is where I want to be right now – Topkapi Palace in all it’s majestic glory!
And the Dolmabahçe Palace – a brilliant time capsule of Historic magnificence!
Oh Turkey! How I love you so! How I wish I was strolling down one of your cobblestone streets, admiring the opulence of the grandeur that engulfs your cities. How I wish I had your coffees and your Kebabs to whisk my taste buds away to a whole other universe! Oh how I long for the cool Bosphorus breeze in my hair, the rich red carpets beneath my feet and a canopy of exquisite astristry and mastery of finesse above my head. *Sigh*
And that, is the sad truth about being fixated on history – that sometimes all you can do is reminisce and re-live. Until you are off to the next place that feeds your soul!
Istanbul - December 2016