Sight lines and Skylines

A few weeks ago we were in Istanbul absorbing the sights of a city that has been around for over 2500 years.  The city was an experience in complete opposites from life by the swake.   Although it was a bit overwhelming, the city offered some incredible sights that made the stopover worth while.

We ventured off the ship under our own steam, foregoing a tour bus on the first day.  If you want to come home from a cruise weighing the same as you did when you left home, it's utterly necessary to walk, walk, walk.  So we did.  Across the Galata bridge where the fishermen spend the day tossing their lines into the Bosphorus River.  The fishermen stop to rest occasionally on what we might consider antique armchairs.  While life in Istanbul carried on around us, we trekked through the city to all the usual tourist sites like the Underground Cistern, the Blue Mosque, and the Sophia Haggia museum.  At every stop there was someone trying to hustle us to buy a map or let them take us on a guided tour.  The sounds of 'hey lady' echoed in my ears all day and in fact I can still hear it if I close my eyes and imagine Istanbul.

In the interest of adventure and having a unique Istanbul experience, we kept walking until we emerged again beside the water.  Here we saw one of our most memorable sites, the kind you won't read about in a tour guide's book.  The Turks are very enterprising, and a fellow had set up a couple of sticks with balloons strung in between.  For a fee you could take a turn shooting the balloons, and if that wasn't exciting enough for you he also had bottles you could shoot at.  We viewed the spectacle through western eyes and wondered what happens to all the broken glass and strips of shredded balloons, after the fun was over.  After a few more hours of walking, we returned to the ship for the evening.  From the ship, we watched the sun go down over an incredible skyline that shares trolley car wires, cell phone towers, dilapidated buildings, and minarets rising like exclamation points along the horizon.

It was a fantastic experience.  One that has driven home the wonder of home where we have elbow room, where we can find solitude, where we can breathe deeply.  The tamaracks have turned golden on the swake.  Our little silver maple survived its first summer, blazing into fall with red foliage.  Whether its the sun in the day time or a full moon at night, I don't have to go far to enjoy changing sight lines and a skyline that leaves us staggered by its beauty.