Traveling Wide and Far for good reason
Standing at Taksim Square I felt an overwhelming sense of distance from anything I’ve ever known. It was a moment in time where many things I always thought I knew, blasted apart, shattered under the weight of truth. The smell of the salty Bosphorus tangled with the summer breeze and mixed with the luscious spices of the Turkish people. Kids chasing each other around the park connected to Taksim Square. Old men push carts selling Turkish Tea and coffee. It’s a beautiful day with seagulls overhead.
The square is a perfect place to start to get lost in the mix of Istanbul. What was once part of the cradle of modern civilization and prominently named Constantinople, is now a gorgeous ancient metropolis standing atop seven hills that is split between Asia and Europe.
A mix of Spice and Life
Taksim Square lands on the European side of the city. As you begin to wander down from the hilltop you make your way through the battered yet still breathtaking cobblestone streets. Wild cats walk along the gutters and rooftops. Turkish men sit on tattered chairs drinking tea and playing domino’s. Cabbies weave around pedestrians with precision and fearlessness.
It’s about a ten minute walk down from Taksim Square to the coast. When I arrived at the coast for the first time, a large and uncontrollable smile reached my face. The salt water crashed along the seawall and Turkish youths jumped and laughed and took selfies with each other.
I found a vendor with some Turkish Ice Cream for sale. Don’t pass up an opportunity to witness these guys make you a cone of ice cream. It’s an experience. And the ice cream is like nothing I’ve ever had before.
Taksim Square leads you to Everywhere
Not in the mood for dessert? How about some Hookah? I sat by the coast smoking from a hookah that had a strawberry flavored shisha. A group of Middle Eastern women on vacation sat together smoking shisha as well. I felt at home along the sea. The fact that some big American was sitting smoking hookah definitely registered surprise on some peoples faces, but everyone was all smiles. I sat there and wrote for what felt like half the day. I drank apple tea and took in the sea air. From that chair I could see straight across the Bosphorus to the other side of Istanbul. The Asian side of the city standing like a sibling that will never leave their other half.
I found great peace in Istanbul. The people were beautiful and polite. Even being there during a bombing couldn’t change that feeling of acceptance.