The first thing that will come to mind when I think of Istanbul in the future will be the haunting sound of the Muslim call to worship ringing through the city streets, with the hint of a speaker crackle occasionally slipping through. During our visit, five times a day I would stop and just listen — even though I could not understand the words there was a transportive element to the song. It reminded me of a door of sorts, an unseen and imperfect door to God right there in the middle of a teeming metropolis. It’s hard to explain, but the call captivated me every time I heard it. Anyway, I could happily have stayed in Istanbul — it felt that within the 5 days that we had in port I just scratched at the surface of beginning to understand this richly layered and wonderfully mysterious city.
The city is quite large, home to some 12.8 million and it is supposedly the 5th largest city in the world. It straddles two continents — Europe and Asia — separated by the Bosphorous Strait. The ship docked on the European side, but a group of us did manage to take a ferry to the Asian side one day. That may very well be the least expensive way to travel from Europe to Asia — a $0.75 ferry ride!
I hope that I will be able to return to Istanbul to shoot a story one day — this is a city I would love to get lost in. Here is the official SAS slideshow — it looks at the cultural melting pot that is Istanbul as East meets West: