Our hearts were heavy when we left Istanbul this morning. We lingered for a few extra minutes on our apartment balcony, filling our eyes with the Bosphorus waters.
The taxi to the airport took us through areas that have become so familiar. As we rounded the Golden Horn, we cranked our heads to get one last look at the mosque-dotted silhouette of the Old City. We spent our last night eating all the things we knew we would miss – kebabs, Turkish delight, mezes. At the airport we even squeezed in a final Turkish breakfast.
I asked the family what they would miss the most about Istanbul. Ava replied, “The park next to The Bosphorus. The water is so pretty you can’t even tell. And the lumps of delight. And the clouds and the sky because it is so bluey.” We enjoyed lumps of delight almost every day and in every flavor available.
Even I may miss the park on The Bosphorus. There’s no where else where I can watch the kids swing in one continent while overlooking another.
As usual, Kayan echoed Ava’s response, but with a few twists, “Turkish delight. Hmmmmmm. Hmmmmmm. Miss the tram. Play doh. Hmmmmmm. Hmmmmmm. Flower tulips.” For the past few weeks Kayan thinks long and hard before saying anything, as if each word is precious and he only has one shot at the conversation.
Sandeep was a little more profound in his reply, “I’ll miss all the things I didn’t do enough of, like eating kebabs, spending time at the coffee shops, watching local theatre. I was never was able to find a pop Turkish concert, so I guess I missed that.”
As for me, I will miss the way Istanbul embraced our family. The kids were welcome wherever we went and we always had a helping hand, be it in restaurants, trams or out on the street. We also met many interesting Istanbullus who went out of their way to show us their city and involve us in their social lives. The city as a whole made us feel so at home that leaving almost came as a surprise.
A benefit of extended travel is that it gives us the time to truly love a city and its people. The downside is it leaves us much more vulnerable to heartbreak. Until we come back again, Gule gule (goodbye) Istanbul.