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Visiting the Queen of cities

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Visiting the Queen of cities

I don't know why my mind drifted to Istanbul as I was contemplating what my first short article would be to make a splash on my digital magazine 'Greek jar' and the initial thoughts I would share with you... Perhaps because when I visited it, I was flooded with its magic, its aura, that curious, beautiful, and artistically woven tapestry of East and West. Maybe because my family roots will forever keep me tied to it... Maybe because I will never cease to be moved by the story of my grandfather Manolis, who along with his sister had no choice but to board a little boat for Greece, bidding farewell to their mother... The mother they never saw again, the mother who tore her heart in two and stayed behind, patiently awaiting news of her missing eldest son... No one ever learned the rest of the story...

It was May when I first visited Istanbul. I was enthralled by the beautifully manicured gardens, filled with flowers of every kind and color. The historic center seemed like a springtime painting. A distant stroll through the history, colors, tastes, and smells of the City... So much to see, so much to admire! The Topkapi Palace, the Byzantine Church of St. Irene, the Basilica Cistern , the Blue Mosque, the Galata Tower, the Egyptian Spice Bazaar, the Grand Bazaar and so much more!!! And last but not least, the most significant landmark, especially for us Greeks, where our hearts beat louder, so loud that their beats are almost audible... The Hagia Sophia, the famous temple of the Holy Wisdom of God! Mixed emotions that keep the excitement and admiration tightly bound, not to escape... The boat ride on the Bosphorus as the sweet afternoon sun bathes the City is one of those experiences, the extraordinary ones. "I want to drink all of the Bosphorus, the borders of the world change within me," sings composer, singer and songwriter Alkinoos Ioannidis, and these lyrics could accompany thoughts and feelings as you cross the waters of the Bosphorus. It's difficult to describe with words a sight that leaves you speechless. It's one of those moments when you don't want to talk, or even listen... Just to gaze! To travel along with your eyes and mind...

Constantinople*! A city you want to walk from end to end to taste it... to listen to it... to feel it! To try and re-try its addictive syrupy sweets, its delicious flatbreads (Gözleme) with fragrant fillings, and of course, the spices... Oh, those spices with their intoxicating aroma, an aroma that has defined the Constantinople's cuisine. The bridges built to bring together the two continents, Europe and Asia, over time have become landmarks, and somewhere there the visitor feels like they're beginning to immerse themselves in this charming mix between two worlds, two cultures, two lives full of contrasts: the Western and the other, the Eastern.

A quick excursion to the nearby suburb, Bebek, was a must! This is where my surname originates, and where my grandfather was born. I don't know what life was like in Bebek back then, what his life was like as a child and teenager, nor in which neighborhood he grew up before leaving it forever... But I would love to know... Today, it's a beautiful and affluent suburb, something one easily perceives at first glance... in the shops, in the restaurants, on the streets...

No, not everything is beautiful in Istanbul. It has its ugliness, its flaws, its wounds, its 'dark' spots. No, not everything is beautiful in Istanbul, but it is magical! I took this magic and sweetness with me when leaving, hoping to return someday and once again honor my Contantinople family roots.

Dedicated to my grandfather, Manolis, who was "taken out" by that boat somewhere in Moschato*…

* The name of the city Constantinople was officially changed to Istanbul in 1930. “Istanbul” derives from the Greek phrase "Is tin poli", which means "into the city". Greeks often refer to Constantinople as simply "Polis" (City).

* Moschato is a suburb in the southwestern part of the Athens in the Attica region of Greece.

Irene Bebekli

Irene Bebekli

I am Irene, I am a web & 3D designer and I love design, pastry and baking, photography and traveling, writing short articles, crafting and creative ideas! So I took a "jar", I put in all these "things" that I love and that' s how my digital magazine "Greek jar" was made! I hope you like it as much as I do!!!

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