istanbul beckons: sweet anticipation

ORIGINS:
Maybe it was the photos of the lovely Hagia Sophia, its shimmering mosaics and smooth marble, in a long-ago art history class.  Maybe it was the descriptions of Turkey in a novel called The Black Book by Turkish author Orhan Pamuk: vials the color of pomegranates; the sea swirling around their delicate ankles; the seaweed and seven-colored oil spills; Alaaddin’s bustling shop.  Maybe it was the Turkish Groove Putumayo CD with the song Kirmizi Biber by Bendeniz.  Or singer Tarkan’s Kuzu Kuzu on YouTube.  Maybe it was the pictures of the cave dwellings of Cappadocia, with its fairy chimneys and otherworldly landscapes.  Maybe it was falling in love with the call to prayer in Egypt, and then being beckoned to Turkey for that same call to prayer with a European twist.

Turkish Groove by Putumayo World Music

What are the reasons we are pulled to any destination?   I could twirl a globe and wherever my finger lands, I could go.  However, I can’t ignore certain places that speak to my heart, places that promise mystery and romance and adventure.  Places that are exotic and far-removed from my daily existence.  Most of these places for me are in the Middle East.  After having been to Egypt, and falling headlong in love with its dusty, teeming streets, its people, the pyramids, the Nile, I know I am drawn to these places.  High on my list are Morocco, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Egypt (again), Turkey.  Other places beckon as well: Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal.  Africa beckons, China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Peru, Brazil…. the list goes on.

For now, I am going to Turkey.  I depart from Korea on July 21st.  Oh, sweet anticipation.  🙂

PREPARATION:

View from the Big Apple Hostel

In travel, the anticipation and the preparation are as thrilling to me as the actual journey.  So, to prepare, here’s what I’ve done and am doing:  First, this is my first big solo adventure EVER!! Worried about being lonely, I decided to do several things.  I consulted Myrna, experienced backpacker and adventurous traveler, who told me about the Big Apple Hostel.  I’ve never backpacked before, nor have I ever stayed in a hostel.  Just to meet other people, I will be staying the first 3 nights in the hostel, in a dorm-style room with 6 other women.  The next 6 days, I booked a tour with Turista Travels (12-15 people, or so they say) to Cappadocia, Pamukkale, and Ephesus.  I will stay alone in a nicer hotel (a treat) for the last 3 nights in Istanbul.

The Black Book by Orhan Pamuk

When I decide to embark on a new journey, I like to read everything I can. Besides Lonely Planet Turkey, Rick Steves’ Istanbul, and Lonely Planet Istanbul, I’m also reading a novel, The Black Book, by Orhan Pamuk.  I love to get a feel for a place before I go there, to ignite my dreams, my imagination.  I look up the musicians in the country and I listen to their music:  Tarkan, Sertab Erener, Sezen Aksu, Burhan Ocal, Duman, Replikas, Yakup, and Ceza. I found some great websites: http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com; http://www.tursitatravel.com.  I’ve researched online Cappadocia, Pamukkale, Ephesus.  I want to see more places than it’s possible to see in 2 weeks; I must face the music and understand that I will simply have to go back!!

I have a love/hate relationship with packing.  Loving clothes as I do, I want to find the things to wear that will make me happy and be comfortable & feminine at the same time.  I get my clothing inspiration from anthropologie clothing catalogs: the models are always photographed in exotic places wearing the coolest clothes.  I’m such a dreamer; there’s no way around this character flaw…. So, as soon as I buy my plane ticket, I start thinking what I will take, how I want to fit into the landscape, into the culture.  On the other hand, I want to try to pack lightly, to free my spirit and my body from cumbersome burdens.  A fun bit of juggling & prioritizing!

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