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From Beginning to End: Melancholy in Istanbul

“If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul.”

-Alphonse de Lamartine

The year of travel has come to an end, and we end it where it began: Istanbul. The idea was to finish the year in a loop, but also to have a familiar place to come back to.

Thus, once again, I have found myself lost in the back streets of Beyoglu, gazing over the Bosphorus, admiring the sounds of the seagulls. I have slowly savored its different neighborhoods, getting to know their personalities and eccentricities like the street cats that wander around the fish shops. I have shown friends old and new how to navigate the bazaars and motion for a cup of tea; I have encountered “the eye of Istanbul” a few months before his passing; I have stood in solidarity with thousands of demonstrators, facing tear gas and charging police. I have climbed its hills, explored its underground, crossed its straits, and traversed its bridges. I have spent countless afternoons taking in the salty air from the heights of rooftops. I have played backgammon to the slow bubbling of nargiles in quiet courtyards, and I have strolled through the faded glory of a lost and crumbling empire. Neither New York, nor Paris, nor London, nor Rome can rival the beauty of this sprawling, maddening, heartbreak of a city. Istanbul, I love you.

I am so grateful we decided to end the year of travel here, because it would have been incredibly difficult to have to say goodbye - both to the travels and to each other - in any other city. In just over six years, the city has become a home of sorts. The city is a base where we could re-center and re-focus, and I look forward to returning to it for many years to come.

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