My friend Uwe and I are on our way back from our memorable trip through Iran. Since we have to change planes in Istanbul, I suggest that when choosing a flight, we decide to stay in the city for as long as possible. Uwe agrees because he has never seen Istanbul himself.
At the airport, at immigration, we get into conversation with a nice Italian couple, Artur and Andrea. The two have the same stupid idea as we do, namely a stroll through the city at the stopover. Since we get along well and I’ve already visited the city twice, I offer them to accompany us. They are very happy and join us.
We can easily get from the airport to the historic old town by tram and drive directly in front of the Galata Bridge to the Golden Horn. A man approaches me on the bridge and asks us to take a picture of him with his wife and daughter. For this we are offered nuts. After three weeks in Iran, I have a nose for Persians and speak Farsi directly with them. The family is very surprised and excited. Uwe and I briefly explain that we have just been to Iran and have learned to love the country. And that everyone there offered us nuts. The man laughs and of course we are now asked to take a selfie with the Iranians.
Artur and Andrea are amazed and we rave about Iran while watching the fishermen casting their lines from the bridge. The two were at a conference and are on their way back to Bologna.
It turns out that Artur is not Italian at all, but comes from Tirana. Again Uwe and I are over the moon as we had a great time in Albania just last year. So now we surprise our friend with our Albanian vocabulary.
The two don’t seem to be a couple, but colleagues. Nevertheless, Artur is a bit too polite and compliments Andrea, which she doesn’t respond to. Uwe notices it too. We support Artur and emphasize what a likeable guy Andrea is now traveling with. Artur is a bit taken aback and smiles at us in amazement but thankfully inconspicuously for Andrea.
We stroll through the Topkapi district and my friends are impressed by the ice cream vendors. Then of course we have to go to the Hagia Sophia, which impresses us in all its glory. This old church and today’s museum also makes me hold my breath every time.
Unfortunately, three years later, the incumbent President Erdogan will convert the historic building into a mosque.
In the 14-million-people metropolis on the Bosporus, you can still clearly feel that it’s early April and still spring. It’s not exactly cold, but it has to be long-sleeved.
We enjoy the view of the bay and can even spot some curious dolphins near the shore.
We are hungry and look for a nice traditional place to eat something local. We find what we are looking for in a small side street and order tea and Börek.
I’ve watched Artur’s shy advances long enough and confront them both. “Andrea, you can see that Artur is hopelessly infatuated with you, right? And he’s trying so hard to take care of you. You should go out together!”
Artur’s eyes almost pop out of his head. “Isn’t it? Come on, everyone can see from miles away that you fancy her. What’s holding you back, Andrea?”
She laughs sheepishly and thinks about what to say. Then she looks at Arthur. “I don’t know. I don’t think I’m ready yet.” – “You noticed?” asks Arthur. A very frank conversation begins that seemed to be long overdue.
We limit ourselves to just a few cheeky comments and retreat. Our flight is about to leave, we say goodbye to our friends and leave them to their fate.