In the last few months or maybe it’s been a year or so (sorry, I’m really not good with time), it seems Turkey has been on the shit list for being the brunt of the immigrant crisis (well Turkey and Greece). I can’t say Turkey has had it worse than Greece or anywhere else that has taken in refugees or is in that general area but due to their Muslim affiliation and all too recent terrorist attacks in Istanbul and Ankara, the capital, I’ve heard SO many people say they wouldn’t go there even if you paid them.
Everyone except for me. In planning my trip to Amsterdam next month and subsequent move to Germany in May, I was looking for the airline with the least expensive fare and that airline happened to be Turkish Air. I would have a layover in Istanbul no matter what so I decided to make it a long layover. (It should be mentioned that I made this reservation maybe 2 or 3 days after the first incident in Istanbul. My mom has no idea about the layover….). So why would I do something so insane? (I’m being sarcastic here, can you tell?)
I’m a history major who studied cultural anthropology and comparative religion (all religions) as well. Istanbul, for lack of a better word, might as well be my own personal Mecca. It straddles two continents (bucket list), the history on one side or the other of the Bosphorus strait alone is enough to seduce me but Istanbul has this mysterious allure I honestly can’t explain. I’ve always wanted to go there. To me, it is more of an eternal city than Rome. The Haiga Sophia- holy crap! A gorgeous cathedral during Roman times converted into a mosque and then a museum? My own personal brand of LSD. The Hippodrome! SOOO much history to walk from the Haiga Sophia to the Blue Mosque, arguably one of the most beautiful mosques in the world. The there’s the ferry that takes you from the European side to the Asian side. Turkish baths. The Grand Bazaar- shopping for awesome stuff in a centuries-old market! All of this equals a Life-gasm!
To many people, the very FEW things I’ve mentioned with great enthusiasm would still mean nothing and not be a draw to such a magical city because of all the negative connotations surrounding Istanbul, Turkey, Muslims and anything remotely close to the Middle East. But here are the facts. I have no fear of Muslims what so ever. I have no fear of any person of any religion because religion is only a part of who you are (unless you are completely INSANE like terrorists). I am not afraid of a country that’s had just as many terrorist attacks in the last 18 months as the US. And I am definitely not afraid of a city that while steeped in millennia of history has managed to become a thriving modern city with its own take on everything!
So for everyone who is happy to sit back and ignore this true gem in the world, feel free. That just means it’ll be less crowded for me!