This is a city to get your pulse beating.
There is a funny thing the novelist David Sedaris wrote about clothing. He wears clothes until they literally disintegrate on his body, afraid of buying beautiful new things and then ruining them by... living in them.
Finally one day he goes shopping and ends up buying a $500 cashmere sweater that has been pre-ripped, shredded, and torn up, for that ultra-cool look. He doesn't have to worry about ruining the sweater because it's pre-ruined; he can live freely in it.
This is how I felt about Istanbul, coming from Switzerland. In Istanbul I could exhale, loosen up, relax. In Switzerland everyone has a stick up their ass, a furrowed brow, a judgmental nose up in the air. Istanbul is just beautifully alive; you don't have to be afraid of living there.
When there are anchovies or sardines on the menu, they will be in my belly that night. It simply must be.
Rare smiling Alex spotted in Turkey.
In my element.
We visited Istanbul just after bombings in the city (as I showed my Swiss ID to passport control when flying out of Basel, the control person asked where I was going and when I told him, he made a sound that translates to: 'Ok, off to your suicide, then, you total idiot?'), in the off-season. There were absolutely no tourists. Just locals, trying to get on with life, unwilling to stay inside in fear.
Living in Switzerland is like living in a doll house. Everything is perfectly manufactured, efficient, prompt, functional, spick-and-span. But also bland, cold, and lifeless. And an outsider like me lives in fear of making a misstep and disrupting.
Istanbul is no dollhouse and I don't know how to say it any better than that.
Once again I accidentally took Alex to a vegetarian/vegan restaurant. Of course Alex ordered the one meat dish. But everything was remarkable.
Chased with chocolates and wine back in our Air BNB.
More from Istanbul coming next week....