April 8, 2010


I wake with my leg worryingly swollen. We’ve stopped at a service station outside Istanbul. I jump down from the bus and jog on the spot manically, head full of Deep Vein Thrombosis. I take my socks off, wiggle my toes. My leg returns to something like normal. Back to sleep.

* * *

It’s raining. A commuter bus passes, full of workers with their heads bowed forward, the head of each resting on the headrest in front. At the side of the road, bag-eyed people wait for trams. Europe looms.

* * *

Once we’ve bought our tickets for Prishtina, Kosovo, we head for town. The tram sets us down in Sultanahmet, and we’re in a world of mighty stone mosques and high-price tourism. Away from buses, away from cars, we breathe and rejoice at the collective daftness of tour groups. They put their shoes in plastic bags and wear big grey gowns. We follow them into a mosque, huge and blue-tiled inside. It’s called the Blue Mosque, we overhear. I follow various tour groups, guides speaking French Spanish Japanese about sultans and the Holy Koran. Men have come to pray- they walk a wide expanse of rich carpet and kneel, while the tourists film and take photos from behind the barriers.

Outside, it’s bright. We drink tea in an overpriced café where Hotel California pipes through the speakers, and feel disproportionately happy.

Istanbul, Turkey. Tourist outside an ancient mosque. 2010

Istanbul, Turkey. Outside an ancient mosque, local man Hamdi dresses as a traditional Turkish citizen for the tourists. 2010.

Istanbul, Turkey. Locals mix with tourists holding guide-books and tour-leaders holding flags to signal their presence. 2010.

Above image: Tourists and flag-waving tour guides mix with the locals. Istanbul, Turkey. 2010

One response to “Istanbul”

  1. Ruth Carter says:

    Dear ‘gluttons for punishment’

    Train journeys are easier to sleep on and usually more reliable.