First, you’ll feel the smells. The wind will carry you to the insatiable lamb chops, baked corn, or to the pistachio baklava. Amongst these, there’s a whiff of old buildings and the fresh flavor of the sea. This scent will stay with you forever, begging you to come back, wherever you may roam.

Then, you may hear the muezzin’s whisper. The calling to their prayer is the most intense sound of Istanbul.

After a few days, the city robs you of your inner peace. You’ll feel hesitant – you would definitely want to stay more, but at the same time you would want to escape the city’s turmoil, the agony of the tourist who wants everything, fast and NOW.

Leaving Grand Bazaar, we’ve quickly found a very crowded street which we aimlessly walked, reaching the Galata Bridge. Continuing our foot exploration, we’ve ended up in Kabatas – boarding a small vessel. The ferry moves gently, leaving Istanbul in a milky haze. The salty vapors on my face have turned my inner quiver into peace and joy.

The ferry cruises the Marmara Sea, and a magic mist lays on the skyscrapers and the white mosques. We dock on a small, bosky island – finding serene locals and hasty tourists. It’s a day-tripper’s paradise – most of who don’t really stop to look and feel. They storm into everything, take pictures, then run to the next ferry, going to the next island. Their loss is tremendous.

If you have the honor to be in Istanbul for a day, please stop and listen to her whisper.

You can’t get enough of this amazing city, you won’t learn Istanbul’ secrets, streets, and flamboyant corners, where the tea is steaming its gold edged glass. In Istanbul, you can never perceive the same things as you previously did, because the light will be different, and you might learn some of the smells, maybe even some of its mysteries, only if you would stop and listen.
by IOANA BUDEANU

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