The Ottoman Accident, Turkey, February 2019

I swear I’ve never opened a history book, yet as I travel this world it keeps turning the pages for me. I ended up in Turkey accidentally as it was the launch pad for my tour of Iraq. And yet it’s my perfect mix of history and intrigue. Over a one week timeframe I’ve managed a quick immersion in Istanbul and the Roman ruins of Ephesus.
Byzantium was once the centre of the Roman Empire and was befitted with buildings of the city’s stature, then Constantinople it became (after the emperor Constantine who built the Hagia Sophia basilica). And now Istanbul with its Ottoman Palaces and domed mosques that pierce the sky with slender toothpick minarets.

Istanbul panorama

It is the Occident meets the Orient, where Europe sits one side of the Bosphorus River and Asia on the other. The Ottomans were drawn to the finer things in life and Turkish coffee has been served here in elaborate ritual since the 16th century, along with sweet lokum (Turkish delight) and refreshing fruity and perfumed sherbet drinks to cool the brow.
There is a vibrancy of characters and movement in Istanbul that I love: tea-sellers madly deliver trays of sweet, hot tea around the merchants who stand at their doorways enticing foreigners, hot slivers of doner kebab land into sandwiches carved freshly on the street, shop windows are stacked precipitously with towers of colourful Turkish delight and baklava and ubiquitous carpet sellers try to flatter you through their shop door.
Alas one week is too short -but like a shot of Turkish coffee and a little square of Baklava this place has set off a sweet explosion in my mind with the Ottoman adventures to be continued.
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