Random Thoughts From Istanbul, Turkey

Greetings from Istanbul,

Saw my mother off today, it was bitter sweet. It’s funny how people say they get homesick. I find the only people who get homesick are people with homes. Sure you miss your family on extended trips but if you ditched everything you own (except the essentials aka a car, golf clubs and fishing gear) in order to make the world your “home”, getting homesick isn’t as applicable, if you go home, it’s not the home you had…

Either way, was amazing to reconnect with family after so long. After wandering around the Rome airport for too many hours to count, finally boarded a flight to Istanbul. I arrived in Istanbul at 6:15PM and on the Asian side. It took a full 1.5 hours to get downtown in a shuttle. Be aware that if you fly to the Sabiha Goken on the Asian side, it’s quite a trek into town. The coolest part is that you cross a bridge that says “Welcome to Europe”.

I’m looking to join The Traveler’s Century Club at one point in my life, it’s not often that in a 48 hour period you’re in 4 distinct territories of this planet. Sicily, Italy, Asian Turkey & European Turkey. The traffic is incredibly, the jam was long and it was 8PM by the time we made it to the bridge, can’t imagine the heat of rush hour.

So far Istanbul has a serious pulse to it. The city is a BEHEMOTH  and supposedly has over 20,000,000 inhabitants.  To give you an idea of this size, Bangkok had roughly 12,000,000 people living in it in 2008. The city stretches forever and has mosques lining the skyline. I do like how they have massive Turkish flags that are very prominent every so often. Also lots of construction everywhere, the place is expanding.

I’ve only been in the city a while but already finding my barrings, the place is quite dirty compared to Rome but doesn’t have a sinister vibe, I wouldn’t say it has an overly welcoming one either. It has that “monster city vibe” to it. I’m downtown in the Sultanahmet area because it’s close to all the major attractions and the top spot to find cheap Istanbul Hotels. I’ve stayed at a few places in this area but somehow now always find myself at a chill place with a great rooftop view of the Hagia Sophia.

In closing, I’d like to say that I’ve finally seen the shift occurring in publishing with my own eyes. The number of people using a kindle, laptop or smartphone was astonishing while the book stores and magazine racks were like ghost towns. A change is happening, slowly but surely it’s a “bye bye printing press” scenario.

Something that is cool is that the more you travel, the less you see differences and the more you see similarities. When I first got to Bangkok aka my first time to Asia, all I noticed was the differences. Now, whenever I arrive somewhere I notice what places have in common.

Finally, it’s nice to be somewhere outside the Euro again. If you haven’t been paying attention to currencies, the Euro has become quite strong. It’s losing some ground now due to the whole Greece and Italy scenario but flying from Rome to Istanbul has been a nice case of “reverse sticker shock”, if that makes sense.

Tips hat,

P.S: In the shuttle, there was a Turkish gent who moved to Germany with his family when he was 3. He was here with his mother for a week. If you’re lucky enough to have a mother and be on good terms, go somewhere with them one time, it’s a totally different experience and incredibly worthwhile.

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