Final Random Thoughts on Istanbul

The juxtaposition of Europe and developing world, of Christian and Byzantine with Muslim and Ottoman, of women in jeans and heels and women covered head to toe … it’s amazing to see all of that side by side every day in Istanbul. People have described the city that way, but it’s still amazing to see quite literally, the flow and interplay of civilizations and cultural influences.

What else surprised me about Istanbul? I’ve mentioned the traffic and congestion. I loved the efficiency of the public transportation system – perhaps our own Metro can learn a thing or two.

I loved the views and the beauty of the green spaces at the palaces …

Grounds of Dolmabahce Palace

As an animal lover, I noticed all the stray animals and how they seemed to be part of the fabric of the city. The luckier stray cats lived in the mosques, where it was grassy and shady, the staff left out water and food, and the tourists paid them attention. Others lived in public squares and behind, well, almost everything. Supposedly, it’s one reason Istanbul (supposedly) doesn’t have rats …

How do you like my digs?

The stray dogs, meanwhile, slept at the bus stops and parks during the day and look well-cared for and fed. I noticed many had a plastic tag – like an earring – in their ear. Apparently, it’s some type of marker that the dog has been logged and has had its shots?

In the end, I suppose it’s the unexpected contrasts that make Istanbul fascinating, exhausting and compelling.

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