Istanbul, Part One

So. Robert has been gone about five years, now. It seemed a good time to come back to Istanbul.

I was thinking about this post while I was in Paris. The idea was that it was time to wrap up these memorial posts. There are only so many memories that you want to post to a blog, after all. It was during a trip to Turkey — to Istanbul, Izmir, and along the Mediterranean — that Robert and I made the shift from not serious to probably permanent. It seemed that this was a fitting place to put the dedicated blog posts to rest. My plan was to visit some favorite old places and find some favorite new ones. Time to transition.

Well, too true. I have just arrived. If my attention span holds, I’ll do a second post about what I see during my week here. I can tell already that this is not the Istanbul that I saw all those years ago. The city has grown exponentially. It is winter, so pollution is not an issue, but it is dirty. The crowding is much worse. The tourists are staying away. Those who are here are not spending much money. So far I am seeing many fewer shops that sell the metalwork, carpets and all that were such a magnet for me, and more sweets shops, of all things. Even the old standbys, like Mehmet Cetinkaya, are salting their exquisite offerings with scarves and the like.

The world has moved on, no question. So far I have no way to relate my planned farewell tour of Memory Lane to what I actually find. To get through a week in what used to be a beautiful, cosmopolitan city, I intend to affix the rose-colored glasses. I’ll talk to my friend Jennifer. She’ll know who is still doing good work. I’ll check Cornucopia to see what’s on at the galleries. And really, dervishes doing a turn at the cafes? I guess even Sufis have to eat.

17 thoughts on “Istanbul, Part One

  1. Sometime I think its best to savour the good memories and not to revisit a snapshot in time.

    All my returns to favourite places have been a disappointment, one way or another. Except for here. Which is why we are here.

    1. I generally like to see the changes. I have always enjoyed my returns to Istanbul. This time though, wow, what happened? It will be fine, largely because I know where to find the good stuff.

  2. I also returned to the place where I had lived with my first husband – a similar number of years afterwards. I hope you find your trip as therapeutic as I did. There’s a delicate balance involved in putting things to rest x

    1. Rest doesn’t begin to describe it. The people who bought my house when I left California have sold it on. Here in Istanbul many of the folks that made the city so vibrant have expatriated. Maybe the less said about those who have moved in, the better. There is more that I won’t go into. Long story short, there is almost no continuity between my life five years ago and my life now. Robert’s death felt like a tsunami and I guess it was. Only now is that realization sinking in.

      1. I remember trying to describe the feeling to people. Because the only witness to my life for X number of years had gone, it felt like I hadn’t ‘been’ during that time, as if there was no record of my existence. Does that ring any bells? Be strong, and build the new. Five years on is a huge milestone

  3. We look forward to the next post(s) about Istanbul.

    May you and your memories have a safe trip



  4. Gerard, it’s my bank account that needs protection. Stepping into Jennifer’s shop is an absolute threat to financial solvency. One more scarf, two more towels, we can ship…. It’s brutal, for all the best reasons!

  5. Michael and I went ‘Stamboul in the 1980s. We stayed at the Pera Palace and Michael spent a lot of hours in the American Bar which he loved. We felt we had been transported back to the 1920s. I understand that it has been completely redone and “modernized.” Too bad.

    1. I haven’t been there in years. It would have been after you guys went. I have read good things about a renovation, but maybe there has been more than one and maybe one person’s tasteful update is another’s renovation nightmare. I wonder whether I dare run over to check it out? If I do, I’ll take pictures.

  6. Everything changes, nothing stays the same – in some ways that might prove mildly cathartic in helping you move through the grief that is still, understandably, so tangible. I wish you peace in the city, I wish you the ability to lay to rest your restless thoughts and I wish you able to replace them with a soft layer within that will always be Robert.

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