It’s the fourth largest bridge in the world. It crosses the Strait of Bosphorus. Geographers consider this to be the cross-over from Europe to Asia, West to East, and Christianity to Islam. And we cross-over in pouring bloody rain.
I feel like an ice block on the outside but an electric storm on the inside. Lightning bolts of significance zap me silly.
Imagine! Waterways of Europe (and the Danube we followed in Serbia) rush into the Black Sea. Here they dilute the waterways of Russia. Together they squeeze through 32 km of this Bosphorus Strait and spread into the Sea of Marmara, at the feet of ISTANBUL. A little further along is the Aegean Sea, then the Mediterranean Sea and then the WORLD!
Istanbul stands solidly like a three-legged stool on three shores of the Bosphorus. Istanbul (Constantinople until 1453) is the casserole where Europe meets Asia, where West meets East and where Christianity meets Islam. It jumps out in the places, the people and the products we see.
This is where Churches become Mosques and then Churches again. This is where markets line streets, pathways and courtyards for kilometers squared and display the wares and wealth of the world. This is where people, 20 million in total, embody the most hardy, most savvy, most striking of the world’s gene pool.
Istanbul is the start (from the west) and the end (from the east) of the Silk Road. The Silk Road from Istanbul to Beijing! The trade route we are about to mosey along. It’s not a single highway, but a network of endlessly changing tracts and networks. It’s not a reel of elaborately woven silk, but an exchange of goods and ideas and development; of writing, horse riding, paper, printed money, the magnetic compass, gunpowder. A trade route, by land, that dominates for 1500 years. It takes the advent of ocean going ships, and trade by sea, to squeeze the life out of the Silk Road.
Istanbul is the mystic seam where east meets west and we even see belly dancers, dancing boys and whirling dervishes slip through …..