My Heart in Istanbul

I have written before about the beauty of Istanbul, however the recent attacks in the Sultanahmet Square gave me an impulse to write once more.

When I was in the city last summer, I made sure to take note of any mention of terror (as a normal person would), but paid particular interest to how the locals reacted when it was mentioned in front of them. My boyfriend’s Turkish father, for example, did not know what the term ‘ISIS’ meant – because they call it something different over there.

Sultanahmet Square

My experience of the Sultanahmet Square was one of amazement. Knowing I was in the tourist and cultural centre of the city, a place with such history. Of course, we went to visit the Blue Mosque, which I had been apprehensive of due to the clothing requirements. Naturally, the place was full of tourists – women in short shorts and men in vests. The workers at the mosque required females to cover our heads, and some women were asked to wear a full cover up. This was all done in a very polite way – no annoyance was shown to the tourists disrespecting their culture.

Me being a typical tourist
Photo’s inside the mosque weren’t allowed but we got plenty outside!

The square was so full of life. Stalls selling simit and water as the heat was incredible.

My boyfriend’s dad’s BBQ’s are the best

People in Istanbul get on with their lives despite the threat that is all around them. I suppose me writing this is me expressing my own conflict: I am desperate, yet scared, to go back. Of course, the fear of terrorism is not something we in the West have conjured up. It is real and it is happening. But in Istanbul, life doesn’t stop for terrorism. People don’t not go on trips to the coast because of terror fears. I’m not saying we should not be vigilant, but should we let terror stop us from living out lives?

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