Almost out of Europe
08.05.2011 - 08.05.2011
I arrived in Istanbul this evening and thought that the journey deserved a short post.
I tried to take the bus at 10pm last night from Thessaloniki which would have gotten me here at 8am this morning BUT this bus recently changed ownership and changed its pickup location. Therefore, Mike and I waited for the bus last night about 3 blocks from where it was picking people up. So we headed home, searched and found the right information and went to the right place this morning for the 10am bus. I was looking forward to having the day in the city today and instead spent it enjoying beautiful views of Greece and Turkey from my surprisingly comfortable seat on the bus. And had I not waited until this morning, I would not have met Gala, a completely lovely German girl who is working in Istanbul and had taken a trip to Thessaloniki. We spent much of the ride talking and laughing. When we got to Istanbul she told me a better way than the way I had planned to get where I was going and pointed me in the right direction...thank goodness! She was even going the same way for part of the way. And before we diverged she gave me her phone number, and we made plans to meet for dinner on Monday night.
So that was wonderful, and then, when she went her way and I mine, I navigated my way to my hostel by myself and for the first time I actually felt like I was traveling alone. I found a bank machine, took the little tram to the tramway and the tramway to the stop just a few blocks from my hostel. A nice guy showed me how to buy a tram token and a whole group of Dutch men in town for a "guy's weekend" at the Formula 1 made really funny conversation with me on the tramway. And then I arrived at my hostel, which was so easy to find, and was greeted by John with, "Hi! Julia?" Oooh, so nice! I was shown my bed and given tea and engaged in lovely conversation. Then I wrote a bit, read a bit, got the skinny on the sights and then had an amazing shower. And now, I am in my comfy nightgown at the computer in the common space, surrounded by happy travellers. Well, many of them are sleeping but there are a few still up.
I am within a 10 minute walk of most of the sights here in Istanbul, the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the Grand Bazaar. Topkapi Palace. Tomorrow, I thought, was supposed to be rainy but now they say it will be sunny! So tomorrow will be a great day I think! I really am feeling energized and so proud of myself, quite capable and alive.
I have been reading Abraham Heschel's The Sabbath and I wanted to share a few thoughts I've been thinking on. They are a lot to read all at once, but the second and the last are my favorite.
"There is a realm of time where the goal is not to have but to be, not to own but to give, not to control but to share, not to subdue but to be in accord. Life goes wrong when the control of space, the acquisition of things of space, becomes our sole concern."
"Reality to us is thinghood,...The result of our thinginess is our blindness to all reality that fails to identify itself as a thing."
"Menuha is the same as happiness and stillness, as peace and harmony. ...It is the state wherein man lies still, wherein the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest. It is the state in which there is no strife and no fighting, no fear and no distrust."
"Out of the days through which we fight and from whose ugliness we ache, we look to the Sabbath as our homeland,...[we] reclaim our authentic state,...we are what we are, regardless of whether we are learned or not, of whether our career is a success or a failure; it is a day of independence of social conditions."
Good thoughts for all of your strong minds. More soon. Much love from Turkey.