Can you go to Istanbul and deliver a workshop were the words that rang around my ears.
What? Why? Istanbul. That is in Turkey, the place where there has been a recent failed military coup, the country is in a state of emergency, the place that borders Syria where there is intense fighting and the place that has recently had an attack on the airport is where I will need to travel to.
Don’t worry Colin, what you hear on the news is an exaggeration. I decided to look for myself on the UK government website and found that they came short of saying don’t go to Istanbul but they did say be vigilant at all times.
With reluctance and trepidation flowing through my veins, I decided to give it a go.
Off to Istanbul for the first time, a trip to the old Ottoman Empire capital. The place where the European continent ends and the Asian continent begins. The divide of the Bosphorus offering stunning views of shimmering water flanked by land masses climbing up wards and densely built upon.
Traveling has given me the chance to grow my mind and broaden my cultural experiences. Working overseas, allows me me meet and get to know locals quickly, understanding their thoughts and how their local culture affects their mind.
I hire a taksi (local spelling) and take a trip into the city centre. I find it chaotic and bustling, this place has a heart beat and is very much alive and kicking. It is far from perfect but also very beautiful. There is a mixture of run down streets and shops, yet there is also the majesty of the previous empires that have been run from here.
Impressive architecture seems to be around many corners. Then there is the link by bridge over the Bosphorus of Europe and Asia allowing for the transcontinental crash of culture.
My driver takes me over the Red Bridge, a stunning structure fitting for the role it plays connecting two continents. It has the feel of greatness about it and so it should.
Down into Besiktas and a drive by the Bosphorus, we pass the University and Yildiz Park and then on to Oltakoy, one of the most popular districts with a fantastic mosque and an amazing view. Until we are heading up hill towards the main Taksim Square. I am aware there is a football stadium smack in the middle of the city. The Vodaphone Arena to be exact. A brand new building for the local team.
We are soon in Taksim Square and surrounded by the major hotel brands. The square is beautiful and gives an escape to the hustle and bustle of the city.
And then we go on to the Sophia Hagia a giant of a mosque. The architecture is stunning, I have never seen such a thing.
We then drive back to my hotel on the Asian side of the city.
A whistle stop tour but fabulously worth coming for the experience.
Working overseas on a short term assignment is like going on a holiday for me, it allows me to connect with the locals and also view the cities, all for free. OK there is a little bit of work to do but, I never let it get in the way of exploring cultures and growing my mind.
Never let a day at the office get in the way of cultural enrichment.