Day 21: Thursday, 4 May 2023 – Istanbul, Türkiye (41° 8′ 40 N, 29° 43′ 7 E)
The last time I was here, in 2017, I was with my family. We rented an apartment, just under the evening shadows of Galata Tower. I had such a wonderful time showing my two kids a city I love. But it wasn’t always love. Nope, the first I visited Istanbul in the 80s, I did not like it. Dark, dirty, unsophisticated. Surely, the psychological (real & imagined) horrors of Midnight Express, lingered in my mind. It was repressive, good food scarce, and seemingly everyone smoked…and women out & about were rare. But over the years, I have come to love this city. I love walking its deserted streets in the morning. I love being a boat admiring its grand architecture. I love the food, its markets, the green parks, and of course, the people. I never tire of exploring some new neighborhood.
You know…I have been all over (and as Bono sings, “it’s been all over me too”…), but I don’t know if there is a more beautiful city in the entire world than Istanbul at dusk?! It is amazing. From the flowing hills and the shimmering water to the illuminated mosques and minarets; from the echoing muezzin’s call to prayer to the bridges and the hundreds of different sized boats skimming like water bugs, it is a sweetly sublime scene. Istanbul is a living fossil…the ebbs and flows of history surround you here–yet it breathes just like any modern day 21st century city does. And Istanbul wears its history well…juxtapositions abound at every turn…it is Asian, but oh so European. It is religious, but oh so secular. It is ancient, but modern too. Signs of the coming national elections are everywhere..me, thinks things are about to change after over 20 years on one man rule!?
We have entered the home stretch, with just two legs remaining on our around the world adventure. Teams are poised to finish strong, and I sense a fun last few days of bebopping here before we head back to North America.
This is our last plea…so make it worth our begging…please.
The Global Scavenger Hunt has always been about more than traveling around the world competing for The World’s Greatest Travelers crown in the world travel championship… it is about helping others help themselves through the GreatEscape Foundation. This year, to celebrate our event’s 16th edition, we aim to fund two schools in places that really need them. Co-ed elementary schools at that. So, if you have it in your heart to not eat lunch out this week and make a small one-time $25 online donation during the 2023 event, we know a lot of kids needing an education that would thank you. Thank you all because we know that every little bit helps a lot. (FYI: All individual donation names will be put in a hat, and on 5 May, we will select a winner for a fun special prize—it will be worth much more than your $25+ donation!). Thank you!
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