I am just returned for the 2nd time in 8 months from Istanbul. When I visited last year, feeling an amazing fondness and love for this city I didn’t expect to be back so soon but my illustration work found me out there just last week!
Of course I stayed on a few more days and had a wonderful time running round and drawing the sights (and buying crazy things like lemon salt!)
Here are some of the places and moments from the trip….
This restaurant we had an amazing dinner, playing backgammon and snap, drinking red wine, eating phenomenal food and dancing round and sharing music with the lovely owner as we left. My friend Tem and I returned on our last morning for the most delicious breakfast dish ‘menemen’.
Late for our flight I didn’t have time to visit the beautiful junk shop pictured on the corner but this view is a familiar one I will return to easily as every road we took in Istanbul seemed to lead us back to the crossroads of the incongruous Pizza Vegas and The Babel Restaurant.
After the aforementioned evening Tem and I found a hidden away restaurant with a hidden away garden and tortoises wandering around… feeling wobbly we did portraits of each other (mostly without looking at the page) that came out just as wobbly as we were. Sitting on the swing seat and taking up two tables in this rather up-market restaurant, we recovered the will to go out and find the city.
Last time I kept trying to visit the blue mosque, or Sultanahmet, during prayer times and didn’t see it. On this trip timing was better and I got to see inside. I had imagined it being bright turquoise and almost brashly vibrant, but actually the space has a very pale, etherial quality, accented by the blue and turquoise tiles and paint, but also by reds in the windows of the domes.
In contrast to the vast airy chamber surrounding them the crowd milled on a red carpet, every woman in a headscarf of course, even the westerners, and many men wearing the long cloth skirts they hand out as you enter to cover anyone in shorts. The hustle and bustle of the jostling people in their many colours was for me, an integral part of the view. I always find myself watching the watchers.
Elections and Princes Islands
On the eve of the Turkish election, the most important in 30 years which had everyone holding their breath as the Kurds waited to see if they could get enough percentage for representation, we took a trip to one of the Princes Islands. This is the view, leaving Istanbul on the ferry.
We walked to the top of the island and saw a wild horse, and sat, and sang, and looked at the sea. We returned to feast on meze at the house of our turkish friend and to celebrate the outcome of the election.
When we got on the boat to return ‘home’ to Istanbul and our hostel it was full of people dancing and celebrating and playing music. The atmosphere was incredible. The celebrations lasted the whole time we were there….. huge crowds in the street.
Istanbul – i’ll miss you and your colours, crowds and junk shops, steep streets and fine food, and fine people – I’ll be back again. Soon I hope.
One last memory for which I haven’t a picture – Waseem in the Juice shop – thank you for your sanctuary and sharing in our music in a moment that was needed. And for the token, hanging in my window.