Each morning as soon as I wake up, I start going through all the bliss in my life. I am thinking about the day ahead with excitement and I am smiling and I make sure my whole body is smiling too. This morning I woke up later than normally. The sun was shining to my hotel room and I felt like I slept enough for the first time since Tuesday. Yesterday I decided that I am going to rest and relax all day and write, meditate and enjoy silence. I have to admit I am guilty of falling into convenience traps; I just picked up Starbucks coffee. I should try the local coffee and tea. But this is my Sunday and I am loving my latte. It is safe and today is not about adventure, today is about relaxing, resting and processing what I have learnt.
Yesterday I visited one of the 9 islands located close to Istanbul, called Princes' Islands. It was a bit of a hassle to get there. 20 minutes by foot, 30min ferry, 30min taxi and another ferry for 50 minutes. But it was absolutely gorgeous place! I can only imagine how it would look like in the summer. 4 out of these 9 islands are open to public. We visited the biggest one,called Büyükada. There are no cars other than police and mandatory vehicles for transporting food etc to the restaurants and shops. It felt like being in a movie. It could have been time travel, too. We hired a horse carriage and our driver took us around the island. On the way up to the top of the hill we saw lovely villas that looked empty. I would imagine these are summer houses for rich people and empty during the winter. We saw chicken and horses wondering free in the woods. We reached a market place on the top and we were taking a short break here. The views were stunning. We were able to see the sea and never ending row of Istanbul's buildings in the horizon.
The market place was filled with beautiful jewellery and all kinds of small items that you can imagine. I saw a boy (maybe around 12 years old) selling charms for various things, such as car, love, money, health, abundance etc… I tought this idea was so nice so I bought some! There were several horse carriages parked in the middle of the area. I love animals so of course I went to take pictures and talk to these horses. When I left to look for my carriage, the horse with the yellow beads below started following me. I thought it was so funny!
Our driver took us down the hill after we had seen the market place and we saw more beautiful villas on the way down. We drove through a part of the village as well. Small shops, locals driving with their bikes, and loads and loads of cats and dogs. The animals were everywhere! We stopped to eat and the cats were jumping on to the chairs next to us and one woman freaked out in the restaurant next to us, so I assume a cat was trying to steal some of her food. I saw a shop selling cat food and I was so tempted to buy a bag and sprinkle the food across the island. I didn't have enough time to start my animal rescue mission because our ferry was about to leave and we had to rush back. The journey back to the hotel was as long of course and I was so tired I slept a bit.
I skipped dinner and I just stayed in the hotel for the rest of the evening doing research online. The culture here is so fascinating. I have promised to myself to be honest about everything that I write and I have to say I was so wrong about this country and its people. These people are hardworking and lovely. I have not seen any criminality or anything suspicious at all. I know it exists but I have to say I feel quite safe in here. The religion is such a big part of life in here and you can't escape it anywhere. Even in my hotel room I can hear the call to prayer(adhan) 5 times a day. They are using loudspeakers on the streets to “sing” adhan. It is overwhelming to think that millions of people in this one city are praying five times a day, all facing the same direction.
This is just a glimpse of what I have seen and experienced in here. It has been a journey peaking into another culture but at the same time it has been about soul searching and going through a lot of painful memories. I might have discovered happiness but I haven't processed all the things from my past yet. I have been able to see myself in a very different light than before and everyday I am growing stronger. I have been forced to reflect my past to my behaviour and this has been hard but I am able to understand myself so much more, it is like I can see my past through someone else's eyes. I am not the same person anymore. I have no hatred or bitterness left in me. I am in peace with myself and the world. I am no longer afraid!