January 29, 2013

In / on / around / water.

We boated along the Bosphorus on New Year's Day, where all of Istanbul continued to operate as business as usual. In New York our relationship to water is often assumed into the fabric of our life. We must cross bridges to get to our home or our work, or to escape our boroughs. It's unromantic water, being neither the bluest or the biggest body. But I believe being near water makes living in New York often feel infinitely more spacious than it otherwise would. (And I'm lucky to live and work with a view of the water and travel to work by ferry).

In Istanbul, water is also essential part of life and urban navigation. The city itself is both divided by and surrounded by water. One traverses water to get getting from the Asian to the European side of the city. It's crucial to the fisherman, to commerce, to head north or south to the Black Sea or the Aegean. It's both a livelihood and a way of life, as well as a source of life and incredible beauty for the city. So we took a ferry (10 Lira, ~$6) for 2 hours, up and down the Bosphorus, where port life and architecture are rich, the minarets of each neighborhoods' mosques soaring up in the sky from various hilltops that visible from the strait. 

By late afternoon, when we spontaneously de-boarded at the port of Ortakoy, where they sell oversized, overstuffed Turkish baked potatoes and an ungodly numbers of Belgian-style waffles with toppings--so many toppings--we were ready to walk. And we walked until it was dark, through the trails of the forest which we knew would go somewhere, but were steep and covered with leaves and increasingly hard to parse as the sun went down. It turned out we had made our way to the grounds of the historic Ottoman residence, Malta Kosku, and the park we wandered was Yildiz Park. And inside the kiosk was a window at the end of a grand dining ballroom set for someone else's dinner, with velvet curtains and a spectacular view, yet again, of the Bosphorous, now dimming, very quickly, into the night. 

*Some photos by Jacob. We shared a camera between us for the month. 
*Good reading: Conor Friedersdorf's list of 102 Spectacular Nonfiction Articles of 2012