My last visit to Istanbul, though only a year ago, felt like a different era. The decision to go wasn’t even a decision. It was an opportunity. And somehow, over the last year, things have changed. Political shifts, worldwide terrorism and the like have clawed their dirty fingernails through the television and radio broadcasts into our minds and have made us question things that the average person would never jeopardise; our safety and our freedom.
But this has been intentional. It is Terrorism as its finest.
Terrorism is defined as “the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.” And I don’t like that at all. In fact I stand 100% against it, and with every fibre of my being.
No person should be denied the opportunity to stand in the magnificent Sultanahmet Square, where you can see and visit thousands of years of history. The intricate ceilings of the Blue Mosque spring to mind, the astonishing Hagia Sophia, and the mystery behind the Medusa heads inside the Basilica Cistern. This is where empires have been established. And also, where you can sample the most delicious Turkish kebab.
Cruising down the Bosphorus, smelling the salty air and listening to the seagulls overhead while drinking apple tea is a memory I will forever cherish. Stepping off the traditional tourist tracks (and getting lost) only to discover the most welcoming locals and remarkable hilltop views is something I encourage every visitor to do.
And Turkish Delight.
Don’t even get me started on Turkish Delight. Essentially, if you haven’t been to Turkey, then you haven’t truly tasted Turkish Delight. The variety of flavour and colour – you can’t actually comprehend how impressive it is until you set foot in a store. Last time I made the mistake of bringing too little home. A mistake I won’t be repeating.
And this is why I am making the decision, no; the stand to return to Istanbul. A year ago it was an opportunity to explore a new city, today it is an opportunity to stand for something bigger than myself and to stand against the intimidators.