Istanbul is the gateway between Europe and Asia. The city is a unique blend of west and Middle East, traditional and cosmopolitan, mountains and water. It is at the center of this juxtaposition of two worlds where I will be spending the summer working for a small plastic bottle recycling company. I live in Europe and work in Asia.
The start of my trip was not a good one. My British Airways flight landed in London’s Heathrow airport just as my connecting flight left for Istanbul. I thought that would be my one irregularity for the trip, but to my dismay, my bags, which had not been returned to me during my forced overnight stay in London, had not arrived at my final destination. Having dealt several times with these types of situations in my past travels, I immediately headed for the lost baggage counter as soon as I caught wind of the impending reality. Luckily, I beat the rest of my 21 fellow fliers who were also forced to weather the previous night in London.
Traveling much lighter than planned, I caught a "Taksi" and gave the driver the piece of paper that supposedly gave directions to my destination. Most of the letters were familiar, but several of them were quite foreign. How do you pronounce such letters… Ç Ğ Ş Ü? Although, I had no idea what the words containing these strange characters meant, the driver appeared to understand.
As the driver made his way to this mysterious destination, I was amazed at the incredible number of mosques. Minarets broke up the skyline in all directions like huge crayons. As the taximeter closed in on the estimated fare my friend had given me, I knew we were close. Then again, maybe we were lost. We stopped at a taxi stand and the driver stepped out to ask directions, or so I thought. He returned with a purposeful step and off we went again. I finally arrived to find an office that overlooked the Bosphorus Strait from the mountainside. What an incredible view. Terracotta roofs seemed to provide a path towards the water’s edge. Barges and ferries made their way up and down the waterway that separates the continents of Europe and Asia. On the far shore, evergreens filled in the gaps between the houses and the deep red of the Turkish flag shook in the breeze. I was finally here after having left over 50 hours ago.