Istanbul, instruments, sights, food, dates but no dancing (November 2022)

After a short stop at another beach, I went to Istanbul. I can’t say why, but ever since I began my journey, I’ve imagined Istanbul as a kind of gateway to the East. And I’ve always imagined it as a very different city.

And different it was. Vivid, vibrant and colorful as crazy. I found a very good city home spot right next to a small park and the sea. It was a paid parking, but I ended up paying only 7€ for five nights instead of 7€ for each night. There was an old van in the parking lot that looked like it wasn’t going anywhere, and I wondered why no one was removing it. It turned out to be the tea station for this parking and the walk along the seaside next to it. I loved this practical approach.

From this parking, I explored the city. On the first two days, I visited all the music instrument stores in the district Karaköy. There were a lot of them. I had been making music with synthesizers, sequencers and onscreen instruments on my iPad for years and loved it. But for a few months I had been thinking about getting an acoustic instrument. In Varna, I bought a pad controller for finger drumming, but that didn’t feel like the real deal. I thought about all kinds of instruments: didgeridoos, handpans, cajons, flutes, keyboards… I wanted something real. After trying dozens of instruments, I bought a cajon. It’s amazing how different they sound and feel. I ended up with one that I really loved. I also bought a used and discounted 64 pad midi controller and sequencer at a music store. I thought it would be super universal and cool to use. I went to a city park and made my first beats on the Cajon and it felt alien, but natural and awesome. I tried the pad controller and immediately realized it wasn’t going to work for me. I couldn’t see any of its leds in the sunlight. So I went back to the store where I had bought it and the guy there took it back and refunded me the money without hesitation. I was very grateful to him, because that was pure goodwill on his part. After trying many midi keyboards, I bought one, tried it in the evening and found that one key wasn’t working properly. I fell in love with the Cajon even more because it was so simple. Back at the store, they exchanged the keyboard for a perfectly good one. It was really nice to talk to all the guys in the instrument stores about music and the instruments. Is there anything more diverse than music?

The next few days I went sightseeing and saw a lot of the famous stuff. It was beautiful and I learned a lot about Islam, which was very interesting. And I don’t know why, but every time I see an obelisk, I feel a strong connection with it… Maybe I had watched too much 2001: A Space Odyssey. And I liked the bazaars and how lively they were. I bought some lambskin socks and these ones are now my absolute favorite socks when it’s cold.

Since Artha and I had lived on the first beach in Bulgaria, I had a very strong connection to dates combined with nuts and small pieces of fruit. I highly recommend trying that stuff. My aboslute favorite combination: half of a large date with a salted almond and a small piece of apple! It’s the best! Istanbul was the heaven of dates and nuts! I loved it. I got some recommendations for authentic Turkish restaurants from friendly locals and tried them out as well. My absolute favorite was a little restaurant where they made these “pizza-like” things. I don’t remember the name, but they were fantastic!

I felt like going dancing and looked for a cool little club that played house music. I found one that sounded great, but when I went there at night, they wouldn’t let me in because I didn’t have a woman with me. I had never had anything like that happen to me before. Actually, I was super happy that I didn’t need a woman or anyone else to go dancing anymore. That I felt happy and good when I danced alone. Although I understood their intention for such a rule, I didn’t like it. I thought that this club isn’t very welcoming for people who just don’t want to be with women. And since I wasn’t in the mood to meet someone I didn’t know in a bar or other club, I did let go of the dancing for that night.

I drove to the east of Istanbul. There I found another great city parking next to a marina, a park, and a path that went along the sea. I explored the eastern part of Istanbul, which felt very different from the touristy areas around the sights. It felt more authentic and free to me. One day I took a long run along the sea and I had never seen such a long strip of nature in a city with before on which so many people were barbecuing and having fun.

After a week I was fed up with city life. It had been nice, beautiful and interesting, but I felt like I had had enough. And there was something else. I felt lost and disoriented. But at that point there were only whirly thoughts in my head. It did make me feel unhealthy and frustrated.

Nearly starving after eating the junkies, city life, and romantic ego love (October 2022)

On the last day of Artha’s and my trip to the south of Bulgaria, I had my first encounter with the junkie fruit. These are small, plum-like fruits and they were growing everywhere. What made them a real junkie fruit for me, is that their taste and color were varying all the way. On one tree, they tasted like plums, on another like apricot, on another like peach, and so on. It never stopped. We tried all of them! It was super delicious and like the best candy on earth. Maybe I just ate a little too much of them. Maybe something like fifty too much…

On our last night in the mountains, I started vomiting and having diarrhea. I felt so weak so fast like I had never before. I tried to rest and recover but it did not help. I felt weaker and weaker. We had to go back to Varna because Artha’s brother was about to arrive in Bulgaria after a long time and so Artha drove Rosinante. In Varna, I went to Artha’s flat because I felt so weak and the vomiting and shitting just did not stop. After two days I felt so weak like I did never before. All my body openings were throwing out the juice and/ or the skin of the junkie fruits. I could not eat or drink and on the fourth day, I felt like fading away. Artha and I thought about at which point I should go to a hospital. I’ve been pretty skinny all my life. At that point, I looked like a starving person. All my tendons, muscles, and bones were visible through my skin.

Right at the point where I thought, I could not go any further, my body started to recover. Not all the water I was drinking went straight out of me again. I was so grateful for this. One of the first things I ate, was potato smash. I’ve never been a big fan of it, but that experience let me start loving it. After some days, I felt very much better and although I never had rejected to that ill, I learnt to appreciate it. It felt like a deep and healthy cleaning.

The next five weeks, I spent in Varna and the big beach Artha and I found when we were traveling. Starting this more stationary life was crazy. Artha and I had the time of our lives while on our small journey. Then the junkie fruit incident happened and had a huge impact on my health situation and of course, it had an impact on her as well. At the same time, we moved into the city and lived together in her flat and her brother arrived in Bulgaria after a long time. Artha was thinking about starting to travel or doing something else for a long time. A lot of things were changing and coming together. Like all the time, everything was changing.

For me, this new life felt good. I loved the time I spent with Artha, her friends, and her family and I enjoyed the time on my own in the city. I did a lot of music and got myself a midi pad controller for finger drumming. Varna was a beautiful city with a big beach and a big park right next to the beach between the city and the beach.

We went to a crazy techno party, to different beaches around Varna, visited a couple of restaurants, had beautiful walks along the sea and in the park, and just lived the city life. I started to get used to it and was thinking about getting an BMX to jump and manual around the city.

It felt good to me. But still, the city life was very different from the life in nature during my traveling. Although I was living partly in Varna and partly on that big beach in nature, I felt like I was missing nature. I think at that point I was not sure about it, but as I’m writing this, I’m very sure. I felt torn apart. On the one hand, there was Artha, our love, the city life, and on the other was what was calling me from deep, deep inside of me: living in nature and traveling.

Back in October, a part of me did not want to admit that I still was feeling this calling of nature and traveling. But more the life in nature than the traveling. My love for Artha was so strong that I felt like I would do a lot just to be close to her. And this love, which made me feel like this, was not the unconditional, but the romantic ego love. The romantic ego love that does not like changes. The one that wants to stick with what feeds her. The one that wants to be satisfied by another person. It let me feel complete but at a cost. This love was coming up with all sorts of thoughts and dreams: maybe Artha and I could travel together, maybe we could spend the winter together in the mountains, maybe we could do just something together. Forever. At the same time, I was feeling and thinking this, I felt this strong connection and unconditional love for her as well. It was like a multi-dimensional love.

And then there was the triggering between Artha and me…