St. Petersburg and Prague and many other European cities are the same way – mornings are quiet – but evenings are riotous and filled with people getting out and getting together – and blowing bubbles at midnight.
I have had many colleagues arrive in Canada over the years from this part of the world, and from all parts of Europe. The one thing that seems to startle them the most is the lack of street life at night. As a Canadian, I have always found this a bit confusing. Evenings, for us, seem to center around family and the warmth of home, and service of one kind or another.
Istanbul is full of life until late at night. We are here during Ramadan, staying close to the Blue Mosque. As we make our way home late in the evening, the square is full of families breaking the fast and picnicing together on the grass – as full as Folk Festival – waiting for late prayers, and sharing a time of rest and joy. Last night, we went across the Golden Horn to a more secular part of the city and walked along a shopping boulevard with many others, enjoying the fresh air, the lights, and the sense of a cosmopolitain city. On our way, we passed through another park filled with people – couples, families, friends – all out in the fresh air, enjoying the open space.
There is much more to write about this gentle, chaotic city – filled with an beautiful yet uneasy mix of cultures – but there is so much to embrace…the jumble of the Grand Bazaar, the streets filled with color and smells and people, the many mosques and calles to prayer, the foods, the busy working waterways, even the transit system…we will be back.