|Mosques and churches are abundant in Istanbul.|
|What a view of Istanbul!|
|The contrast between old and new is breathtaking in Istanbul.|
It was not an easy decision, deciding not to visit Istanbul, Turkey today. Tomorrow, while our ship will have docked in Izmir, Turkey we are going on an excursion to Ephesus, not returning until late in the day, posting the story and photos on Thursday.
|We were able to zoom in on many historic sites from the deck of the ship.|
|Taksim Square wherein lies the political unrest in Istanbul, Turkey, is across the bridge from the Blue Mosque. The far-left point of the blue line is the Port of Istanbul. The end point of the blue line toward the right is the Blue Mosque and an area of most of the tourist attractions, a little too close for comfort by our commitment to safety.|
Staying behind is not based on fear as much as on practicality and logical thinking. Most likely, if we did go out, we’d be safe. The odds are in our favor.
Honestly, it’s more my being cautious than Tom.
Looming in my mind is all the bus bombings and terrorist attacks that have occurred whereby tourists have been killed, injured, and captured. In many ways, Turkey is safer than in many other countries. But, in our own US, who would have thought the Boston Marathon would be a high-risk area, on that particular horrifying day?
When we planned this year’s long adventure, we made a commitment to each other: we will protect ourselves from the “things we do know” since we have no control over “the things we don’t know.”
Today, Istanbul falls into the category of “things we do know.” Thus, we stay behind, perhaps viewed as overly cautious and “chicken” by some and sensible by others. Whichever the case, we’ve made peace with our decision.
|Here again, old and new intertwined in Istanbul, Turkey.|
We reminded ourselves that only four weeks ago, we traveled the Middle East, visiting many high-risk areas, reveling in the adventure of it all, grateful for the experience. We’re not pushing our luck to see yet more mosques, shopping areas and historical buildings, however magnificent they may be.
We remind ourselves of our personal travel objectives: to focus our time, money, and energy experiencing amazing wildlife, vegetation, natural wonders. And most of all, living in and learning the culture of people all over the world. This makes us happy. Historical buildings? Nice to see, but not as life-changing for us as it may be for others.
|This simple church spire adds to the Istanbul skyline.|
The Panama Canal, Petra, and Mykonos tell us a story that fills our hearts and minds with awe and joy. Wearing the burka and thobe in Abu Dhabi visiting the Sheikh Zayed Mosque gave us a gift of cultural differences that will remain with us forever.
Who’s to say what “trips one’s trigger?” Luckily, both of us have similar expectations. Five days from today, we’ll plant our feet in Italy for the summer, living for two and half months in a non-English speaking area, learning their ways of daily life, eating their locally grown foods, attending their summer festivities, enjoying their rolling hillside all the while and making friends along the way.
|The Port of Istanbul, where we sit today, a 20-minute walk from the unrest in Taksim Square.|
Yes, we are doing what we want, when we want, what feels safe to us while enriching our lives daily to the world around us. It’s not perfect. It never will be. But for us, this, our friends, is as good as it gets.