It's been 438 days since we left Los Angeles to travel around the world, that's how long. And now that we are about to return to the US of A, it seems like a dream. We'll still be traveling but with a base in Cambridge, Massachusetts, until Winter Solstice. But the foreign part, the part where we have to worry about visas, bookings, and exchange rates, ends this Saturday.
One of the the most vivid thoughts Rowan had in the beginning, probably about the sixth week of caravanning in Australia, was, "Wait, we're going to keep moving, going from country to country, city to city, culture to culture, for another year and more?" It just didn't seem possible. Or realistic. Or tangible. There wasn't anything difficult or unforeseen happening at the time, just...Really? We're going to travel for another year and more? It was an overwhelming thought. Just overwhelming. Now, it feels like it's just been a few weeks. Maybe a long vacation. But not 14 months of nonstop foreign travel. Having it end seems surreal, much like the beginning seemed.
We are in Glasgow, a rainy and quiet city. Two of the last five days had us on a train to Edinburgh to see the Fringe Festival. This is a huge gathering of performance artists of all types. Most of the street musicians are performers are at the Fringe but a few are here, just down the street.
There are performances happening everywhere and the guide itself is hundreds of pages long. We went to a couple of stand-up comedy acts that were extremely funny. It's amazing how much you can enjoy a place when there's no language barrier.
By the time we'd gotten to the festival, many of the performers were a wee bit tired of entertaining. But they were all good and the weather was incredible. We could actually walk around during the day without fainting from heat and humidity. Take that, Singapore, Italy, and Turkey!
There is a lot of talent wherever we go. It's great fun to see so many different performers, whether locally or over in Edinburgh. But we are also looking forward to just being in one place for an extended time to let it all just settle in.
Oh, the tyranny of writing something creative. With a title like "More Istanbul Stuff" you just know we're fresh outta ideas. But fret not, for we have the photos, which bespeak thousands of creative yet nonlinear wordinesses. Above is a stylized version of a wide view of "Old Isty" (as we like to call the old town*) from the balcony of the restaurant at the Museum of Modern Art. Click here to view one that hasn't been decimated by Photoshop filters.
What really is amazing walking through the main meeting area of old town Istanbul after 8:30 PM is how everyone who isn't in full-body traction or deceased is breaking their fast together during Ramadan. It is really quite sweet and fun to see all the people picnicking together. (Note to all tourists: Make absolutely certain you are seated for dinner well before the Voice From The Mosque says, You can eat now! At least, that seems to be pretty much the translation based on our observations of the restaurant seating arrangements.)
But wait! Don't the cats break their fast as well? Of course they do, thanks to the insane cat people from California who managed to find actual cat food in a little store and lugged the 20 kilos all the way back to their hotel. Each night our nobel cat nuts go forth to the trash bins and vacant lots that are a few steps from our hotel to celebrate the evening's rituals with the furry ones.
*Note from Mr Logic: That statement may contain little to no truth value.
...something old and something new. Rowan had stayed in a real flophouse from which many of his American Express Traveler's Checks were liberated from the front desk's safe, so memories of this Euroasian city are mixed. Now there's no more TCs, front-desk safes, and much of the seediness is gone, replaced by trams, cats, and parks.
In the image above, you see the new light-rail tram going by the Pudding Shop, made famous in the movie Midnight Express, where the shop looks rundown and seedy. In reality, it's just a cafeteria, and always has been one. But when Rowan was there in 1974, the tram system had been removed eight years earlier, only to return seven years ago.
I'm not going to claim our hotel is on Trash Bin Street, but I think I got an argument for calling it Cat Street. We've been feeding the cats wherever we go but this sample of a mere seven cats (can you spot them all?) is but a fraction of street felines near our hotel. (I'm sure Shirl's Daily Snapshot will have more views of the Hitchcockian amount of fur inhabiting our neighborhood.) Remarkably, for as many cats as there are walking around, climbing trees, and at your feet while eating dinner, they are well treated and love to be petted, a little trait from Islam. (Anyone know the origin of why Muslims love cats? Leave a comment.)