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essays | places
Galata Bridge, Istanbul / Turkey · 2015 fishing antennas
Bir döner lütfen. That phrase was the only tool of survival I had brought with me to Turkey, and it fed me all the way through space and time from Istanbul to Troy to Cappadocia to Ankara and back. Bir döner lütfen. One kebap please.
Turkey has always been a bridge. Entire empires have crossed it to empty their worlds on the other side. Now the bridge is getting skinny. Few get through. Turkey as Europe’s doorman is an ugly deal that brings out the worst of both worlds and legitimizes the semi-official dictator who too many love for too few, flacid reasons. But Turkey’s wings are bigger than that, and the day it lifts them, they will shake up the air.
Istanbul was the tip of that winged bridge between Asia and Europe, half the former, half the latter, nothing but a bit of ocean-blue Bosporus water in-between.
For me, it was a two-week layover – an appetizer on my way to Asia – and I thought it was hardly enough time to bite into Istanbul. But I got hungry for elsewheres after some days and so I went to Troy – surprised it still somewhat exists – and then I crawled into those extraterrestrial Cappadocian landscapes before hopping into Ankara real quick to see a friend. I found her neighborhood just fine, but the house numbers were neither ascending nor descending. They were arbitrary as lottery numbers and I played that lottery for two hours straight without any luck. If there was a system to them, the locals I asked didn’t know it either. Finally, after combing that 500 m radius up and down and left and right, dragged down by mounting disbelief, a most kind man invited me to his house, introduced me to his wife and son, offered me dinner and enough internet to organize my rescue mission. That is that grand, hospitable Turkey with the big wings I was telling you about.
passages TRRROIA | It sounded something like “Trrroia” when my Turkish bunk bed neighbor in Istanbul gave me a travel suggestion. Our conversations were pleasant, but never made it too far past smiles and the mutual understanding of Raki and cigarettes; right now, I had no clue what he was saying, but it was evident by his incomprehension of my incomprehension that “Trrroia" was of some significance. When it dawned on me, he had rewritten history in my mind with only one unintelligible word: Troy was no longer a faint myth of the Iliad, but an actual, firm place and its ruins were just waiting for me to be their witness. I found the Hollywood horsie parked along the seafront of nearby Canakkale – maybe somebody should look that gift horse in the mouth.
passages "ADVENTURE" | I don’t know in whose backpack the notion first started fermenting, but somewhere along the trail, travel became synonymous with “adventure.” “Adventure travel,” peppered with “adventure activities.” The travel industry has emptied that word of any meaning. It can’t be an adventure if everyone does it, only an “adventure.” Since childhood days, my definition of adventure has been the unknown, and no path or GPS or parental consent leads there. You can only get there by zigzagging through a forest or following a creek or roaming through corn fields and mines. I remembered it all when I spotted that little stone village peeking out of Cappadocia’s illegible rock formations at the horizon’s edge. The boy in me kicked in and pushed me towards the unknown that pulled me in. And so I directed my feet towards the distance, the only compass the faraway village, the only path mine. I had no idea how far it was, whether I could overcome these looming canyons in-between and make it there before nightfall, or where I would take it from there. But isn’t that what an adventure is all about?
Your feet in Europe, your eyes on Asia, your heart in the ocean-blue Bosporus.
Galata Tower, Istanbul / Turkey · 2015 Europe & Asia
places / stories
Istanbul / What Can You Expect If You Expect Everything?
Blue Mosque, Istanbul / Turkey · 2015 beautiful bowels
Istanbul, Istanbul, Istanbul. Love it, love it more, love it most. The only thing people disagreed on was just how great a city it was. These kinds of expectations are a trap. Istanbul, alone, in winter – not that beautiful, not that great. But what can you expect if you expect everything?
Istanbul / Turkey · 2015 moon over Asia
Istanbul / Turkey · 2015 mosques
Istanbul / Turkey · 2015 between bridges
Istanbul / Turkey · 2015 the sun's ebb
The hostel, hidden in the darkest corner of Istanbul’s belly. Three professional snorers in my room. All locals. Always a good sign. Difficult to find hostels like that. To one of them I owe Troy.
Troy / You, here, still?
Troy / Turkey · 2015 no stone is forever
Troy / Turkey · 2015 layers of time
How telling of our belligerent past that the illustrious Troy is but rubble in a meadow. Nine times it lived and nine times it died, and now little signs with Roman numbers mark its stony remains: Troy I – IX.
Troy / Turkey · 2015 rubble in a meadow
Troy / Turkey · 2015 Troy I - IX
Cappadocia / Illegible Landscapes
Uçhisar, Capadoccia / Turkey · 2015 twisted rocks
Uçhisar, Capadoccia / Turkey · 2015 living in stone
Uçhisar, Capadoccia / Turkey · 2015 hospitable rock
I couldn’t read the landscape before me. It was deciphered. I had to dig myself into it as deep as I could, until I was all covered in it. I still couldn’t read it, but I could feel it now.
Uçhisar, Capadoccia / Turkey · 2015 stone home
Göreme, Capadoccia / Turkey · 2015 walking in on a fairytale
Himalayas / Hiking Alone, Astray & Everestless
when you set out to see Everest, but Everest doesn’t care
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