Thursday, October 04, 2007

Autumn Destination: Istanbul

Since it was the pomegranate seeds that Persephone ate in the Underworld that doomed the ancient world to four months of cold, pomegranates have long been a symbol of the changing season. I photographed this pomegranate last November, at a fruit stand outside of Istanbul's Grand Bazaar. It was a cool morning and I was awake early; the only other people out were the merchants setting up their stands. I had come to Istanbul in early November almost as a whim, but I was amazed to see what a beautiful city it was in the autumn.

I know there are a number of classic autumn travel destinations, like Vermont, Japan, and the Napa Valley; but consider Istanbul as well. At this time of year, the air gets cooler, and the leaves on the trees of Sultanahmet turn gold, matching the gilt of the Topkapi palace. The pleasures of the city are as perfectly suited for autumn weather as the rich, dark coffee on offer in Istiklal Caddesi's cafes.

Istanbul is a magical combination of the exotic and the familiar, equal parts fairy tale charm and Oriental opulence. The city's landscape features astonishing mosques, a dazzling palace, and alluring bazaars selling lanterns and richly colored rugs. It is a city deeply connected to the waters of the Bosphorus: from the deck of a river ferry, the city looks as if it is all emerging from the icy water. When sunlight filters through the early morning fog, the domes and minarets of the city's mosques appear almost as silhouetted islands.

If the wind coming from the Bosphurus becomes too chilly, Istanbul's warm interiors will welcome you in. You could browse among glass lanterns and hookahs at the Grand Bazaar, page through a novel in one of Taksim's bookstore, or admire the lavish interiors of the harem at Topkapi Palace. Or, perhaps most fitting for a gray autumn morning, you could simply wait to be invited into a rug merchant's shop, where hopefully he'll off you a warm glass of apple tea.

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13 comments:

laradunston said...

Zander, Istanbul is another of my favorite cities too - you can read about my fave spots in Istanbul on my other travel blog GRANTOURISMO at http://www.charlesandmarie.gt/ (archived under November 2006)
I just love your photos!

laradunston said...

Sorry! It's Xander, I know!!

And that address is wrong, should be http://www.charlesandmarie.com/gt/

See you in Bangkok!

Kate F. said...

Boy, every time I read a new entry here I am blown away by the adventurous life you lead, but this sentence sums it up nicely:
I had come to Istanbul in early November almost as a whim...
Oh, of course! How is it that you are able to travel so much? I am so impressed!

ASD said...

Thanks for adding me to your blogroll. Look for a shout out on my site in the next couple days! I'm offically hooked to your blog.

Anne

Xander said...

Oh my... I think I made that trip sound a bit more extravagant than it was. I had just graduated from college, and was working for minimum wage at a travel bookstore in Los Angeles. While I was hating my job, I was spending all my time browsing through travel books, dreaming of all the great places I wanted to go. So in the end, I decided to change my life. I applied to graduate school in South Africa, and decided to spend the two months before the term started traveling somewhere I had never thought of before. While I flirted with thoughts of Central Asia and the Trans Siberian Railroad, I eventually settled on a loop of the Mediterranean Middle East. And somehow I was able to find an extremely cheap one way ticket from Los Angeles to Istanbul- which is how I fell in love with a city I'd never thought much of before. -X

Another Shade of Grey said...

Beautiful pictures X.

Bordeaux said...

The images and your account of Istanbul was mesmerizing. Now I want to go even more!

kbd said...

So happy to see Istanbul in your list of previous posts. I went there too, and loved it (although it was mid winter and quite chilly!) Great photos, as usual!

Devon said...

Nice images buddy!!! Was going through another article on Istanbul which throws light on history of the city. To read the article click here. Is a very nice piece. But i love the pics in your blog.

Afyonkarahisar said...

Hi,
Welcome.
Very nice photo..

sultanahmet said...

Great Post and great pics.
Thanks for sharing.
I had been there.
Istanbul is a great city.

Flash Poker said...

It is remarkable, rather amusing phrase

Tom Watson said...

Looks interesting, ill be sure to check it out. Cheap property in Istanbul