Istanbul. You can’t describe it. No matter what you say, you’ll be leaving something out. It’s modern. It’s ancient. It’s Europe. It’s Asia. Eastern, western, busy traffic and quiet gardens, urban and island, palaces and bazaars, ferries and freeways, sea and sky and streetscape: Istanbul.
I’ve been occupying Evren’s apartment while she attends a workshop in Italy. Tomorrow I leave Kadıköy – the district where I’ve been staying – to meet up with my tour group. I have some packing to do so I’ll leave you with a glimpse of the city. There would be so many more images, but it’s actually been grey and rainy the past two afternoons and the light hasn’t been quite right. I’ll keep trying!
It’s been a sunny day here in Fevzi Pasa – as always. Most of the senior staff have arrived; we’ve spent the day moving in and organizing. We’re all a little groggy after last night’s late arrival, but evening is approaching; there is no doubt we’ll all sleep tonight!
I managed to evade the prospect of a dreary ten hour layover in Istanbul airport when my friend Evren appeared unexpectedly. We stashed my luggage and she whisked me off to the Metro, passing through the old city at Sultanahmet. Evren has a gift that way; she knew I’d want to see it. We crossed the Bosphorus by ferry, giving us a classic tourist’s view of the the domes and spires of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia while we sipped çay from tulip glasses. Evren has an atelier/gallery in Kadiköy, a bustling area on the Asian side of Istanbul. I toured her new facility – Işlik Kadiköy – and perused the results of this year’s artist workshops as I heard tales of her creative endeavours over the winter. There were more harrowing tales of her participation in the events of Taksim Square in recent weeks. Then it was a quick meal of ‘midye tava’ and ‘midye dolmu’ – fried and stuffed mussels – and Evren loaded me onto the fast ferry back to the airport. She won’t be joining the dig until later in the summer, so it was wonderful to have had even a brief time with her.
Back at the airport, other Zincirli staff had staked out a sizeable share of the comfy chairs at Caffe Nerro – our traditional rendezvous point. Our flight to Gaziantep, in the south, was delayed, so there was ample time to exchange news with old friends and get acquainted with new ones. We strolled through to the domestic terminal later where there was additional time to appreciate the much improved services in the revamped facility when our flight was delayed. We straggled off the plane, wearily collected our luggage, loaded into the vans after greeting yet more old friends and pulled into our little village in the wee hours, gratefully scattering to our various beds.
Tucked in to my usual quarters – the only resident for the first night – and listening to the ever-present shushing of wind in the pines outside my windows, it hardly felt like I’d been away. Home away from home.