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.