Postcard From Istanbul: Before Spring Comes

I emerge from my friend Santi’s apartment in Nişantaşı and step out into a cold gray mist.

The cobblestones are slippery and the color of dull charcoal. An antiques vendor pushes a two-wheeled cart filled with assorted junk, bellowing up at the apartments on either side of the street to give him any unwanted valuables. It is 10 AM and most people have already left for work, so the man doesn’t get any replies. He realizes there is nothing on offer, shrugs, and heaves his cart forward.

I follow him a short way up the block, then continue straight ahead after he turns abruptly down a steep side street. My feet take me to Osmanbey Metro stop, and I descend with a phalanx of teenagers skipping school, old ladies on their way to market, flashy office commuters late to work, and one or two gypsy children begging for money.

Inside the metro, the advertising hordes advertise cheap foreign language classes. A pleasantly robotic voice calls out the stops in Turkish. I transfer stations in the labyrinthine underground of Taksim, then take a funicular train down the hill to Kabataş. At Kabataş I walk over to the ferry landing, take a right turn and start walking south along the Bosphorus.

Ferries crisscross the Golden Horn and churn the steel-colored waters into narrow fans of slowly heaving wake. I tuck my hands into my pockets, duck my head into the wind, and follow the footpath along the shore. Seagulls swoop across the gray sky and follow the ferries departing from one side to another. I hear their cries through the patches of low-hanging cloud, tolling the last cold weeks of winter before spring comes to Istanbul.

Ferries on the Bosphorus

Bridge over the Bosphorus

Seagull

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