Hi from Rick: Illuminating Istanbul
|Fishermen on Istanbul's Galata Bridge appreciate a swirling current|
For three decades, people have asked me, "What's your favorite city in Europe?" And for three decades I've enjoyed the surprise in their eyes when I say, "Istanbul." (Actually, it's not fair to say I have just one favorite, but Istanbul is right up there with Paris, Rome and Vienna.)
And next month I'll be there, fine-tuning our new Istanbul guidebook and scouting locations for a new TV show. (We filmed a popular show on Istanbul a decade ago, but it's time to replace it with one that captures where this magnificent city is today.)
Istanbul — where Europe-Christendom-West meets Asia-Islam-East — is a sort of cultural tide-rip, like when two bodies of water come swirling together. And (just like birds and fish know that's where the good eating is) for a traveler, convergence-points like Istanbul are where one's travel experiences are guaranteed to be the most vivid.
My most favorite trip with my parents was to Istanbul and Turkey, because that's where I witnessed the suddenly-global perspectives of my parents...my own flesh and blood...opening up like a flower.
Our longtime Turkey guide, Lale Aran (whose cute little baby greets me each morning as my screen-saver) just emailed me a news flash about her home town that she's very proud of: a Travel and Leisure magazine survey found that Americans rate Istanbul (after Florence and Rome) as one of Europe's top three cities to visit. The same survey ranked Istanbul eighth in the "favorite cities of the world" category, and the "most exotic" of the world's ten best cities.
The timing couldn't be better, as we're featuring Turkey in this month's Tour News, where you'll find eye-opening articles, impressions from our Turkey tour members, and links to relevant radio show podcasts and TV scripts. You'll also find details on how you can win a 2008 or 2009 tour of your choice through our just-announced Tour Scrapbook Contest.
If you've already waded into bits of Western Europe as a traveler, maybe it's time to dive into something a little more challenging. Are you ready to talk Turkey?