I was sorting through some boxes up in the attic over Christmas and came across a scrapbook from Istanbul. We went there for a week back in 2011. People we worked with were kind of surprised at our choice of destination; “Why?” “What’s wrong with Olu Deniz?” “Where?” “Eh!?!”.
Constantinople, the bridge between the East and the West, culture, Galatasary, Fenerbache, shish kebabs, why not, was our reply.
Looking back through the scrapbook I found the first stirrings of travel writing;
“The taxi driver is patiently waiting with the hotel transfer- looks a bit like Vin Diesel. Duran Duran is playing on the radio, cars are switching from lane to lane, left, right, on the middle, back to the left. Container ships lined up on the Sea of Marmara, but close in to the shore, then into cobbled streets and impossibly tight turns. Istanbul is cold and grey, and exciting”
And it was, we packed all the wrong clothes, but it was exciting. And it taught me something that I have never forgotten, guide books are just that: guides. We walked miles around the old town, the new town, the mosques, the streets, and the markets and yet when we put the guides down, we had more fun. Take these photographs, they were taken at the Galata Bridge, the bridge that spans the Golden Horn between the East and the West. It takes up no more than a couple of lines in guide books at best, but we spent hours there, and I could easily spend a week crossing backwards and forwards between Europe and Asia, having a coffee in the restaurants and cafes underneath the span, and then watching the anglers on top of the bridge, or watching the crowds on either side, or eating mackeral sandwiches from the boats on the shore.
The other thing it taught me was that you can get away with very little: one camera and one lens. All I took was a Bessa rangefinder, a 35mm lens and both colour and black and white film, that’s it. It was light, easy to carry and having one point of view wasn’t a hindrance in any way. Ironically this is the first 35mm lens I sold, the other one is on ebay right now, I still find them hard!
Also if you are ever there, go to the Istanbul Archaeology Museum, probably the best museum you’ve never heard of.