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A Great Love Affair, Istanbul.







I had just finished my last final exam at university. A couple of hours later I was at the airport on my way to Sudan. The summer of 2011 was the first time I traveled alone without the company of my family. I remember arriving to Istanbul for a three hour transit that ultimately became a 24 hour plane delay. I love transforming a bad situation into a memorable experience. I paid my visa fee at the airport, hopped on a taxi and asked the driver in the three words of Turkish—that I have learned from the subtitled Turkish dramas my mother watches religiously—to take me anywhere. It was a beautiful and sunny day. My initial impulse was shopping at the grand bazaar and visiting the historical mosques nearby. Venturing the city on foot I couldn’t help the overwhelming aroma of food stalls in every street corner. It is a dangerous thing I know, but I love street food beyond life. I fell in love with a sesame snack called simit. It resembles a treat my grandmother used to make in Sudan with tea. Turkish simit is different than Sudanese sesame snack. You can enjoy it with various fillings; cheese, olive paste, and spices. "Yummy in my tummy" is an underestimate. If I were to explain it, I think of all the love in the world encapsulated in doughy sesame goodness. I am obviously not exaggerating.


I may have spend far too much time overindulging in snacks and shopping that I did not have time to visit the Blue Mosque or any other major historical sites. But when your tummy is having a love affair, who are you to interrupt it? This was a very abrupt visit and I must return for a real exploration. Being a tourist is lame. This is a beautiful country, famous for its magnificent historic monuments and palaces, its sophisticated old-world culture. It requires a much longer stay to truly appreciate its beauty.