Turkey

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Istanbul, Turkey, August 2008.

Colors all around. Flowers sold in the street, red flags with the white crescent all over the official monuments, blue-and-red Iznik pieces exhibited in the Ceramic pavilion, a cute and one of the oldest buildings in town, erected right after the conquest from the Byzantines for the use of the sultan. I don’t know how (well, the last time it was under restoration) but we had missed it during our 20 plus previous visits to the Turkish megalopolis (well, many times just in quick transit towards the rest of Asia or the Middle East).

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Istanbul, Turkey, August 2008.

I swear I didn’t make it on purpose, but the only one full day we were in Istanbul (waiting for the Baku bus) was Victory Day, celebrating 86 years earlier (not long ago after all, some are still alive today), when they threw back to the sea the invading Greek army which acted on the Megali Idea, trying to recoup ancient Anatolian territories lost to the Ottomans more than half a millennium earlier. We got wind of it when we saw swarms of army helicopters flying over Aksaray, and all the flags waving over the main monuments, including the Aghia Sophia basilica-turned-mosque-turned-museum (below), the former symbol of Byzantium.

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Istanbul, Turkey, August 2008.

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Istanbul, Turkey, August 2008.

Istanbul’s streets are already busy in normal times, especially around the Emniyet Otogari where long-distance buses, overloaded with freight, leave for the Caucasus. Add to that a filming crew and a director sitting in the middle of the street with his retinue, and traffic just shuts down.

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