Beyoglu, Itanbul  (pronounced  Bayolu with a silent G). It’s 3:30 AM and I’m standing at a very tall window against the cool metal radiator – just like the one I had in my room as a child – looking out at the  warm, late night across the Bosphorus water to Asia, South Turkey. Below the window is the old Mevlevi Tekke or Lodge, which survived as a museum during the repressive reign of Ataturk  in the first part of the 19th century. It is filled with a small urban forest that moves in the wind, and between the trees I can see tall, pale gravestones, each crowned with a sikke (tomb shaped hat). A lone grey cat prowls the grounds.

We arrived this evening at this old apartment at the top of Tunnel Square. Our landlord owns the restaurant across the street, where we feasted on yogurt and a house kebab at dinner. Our building has 77 marble steps – to the 3rd floor – the building is like a fortress with 20 foot ceilings. At night,  the broad cobblestone avenue – Istaklal – off Tunnel Square, is crowded with strollers. Beautiful white and blue arabesques are suspended like holiday banners above the street up toward Taksim Square. I saw a woman who looked over 80 years old playing a saz, sitting on the side of the street.  Drummers and other string instruments were on every block. Lots of ice cream stores and bookstores.

Tomorrow we will cross the Galata Bridge across Golden Horn, the channel that runs North East in the European side of this city, separating the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and the Museum area from this busy hill top above Tunnel in Beygolyo. More to come!  I’m a bit intoxicated at the moment. Woke again to the Call to Prayer, which seems to clean the air all over the Middle East. My prayers for World Peace joined in with Allah Hu Akbar!

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