Here I am, reporting in with a few stunning events from my week. Sometimes I wonder whether I have more than my allotment of “golden opportunities” or whether I’m just easily impressed. Who knows?
I spent the weekend exploring Sultanahmet, Ortaköy, and the Kanyon Mall with my friends Mayu, Genya, and David. I snapped a photo of a simit seller in the Büyük Valide Han,
Simitçi at the Büyük Valide Han
and later as we enjoyed afternoon tea at the Taş Han, Mayu and Genya donned historic headgear. Couldn’t resist yet another photo.
Mayu and Genya a la Turka
While Mayu and Genya shopped in the ultra-modern Kanyon Mall, David and I sat over lunch listening to a blues band playing in a nearby courtyard. Nice.
The Kanyon Mall—amazing!
Sunday night David and I shared dinner with Mayu and Genya at the Abracadabra Restaurant (third story balcony overlooking the Bosphorus) before attending the Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood concert.
Genya supports a ship as it navigates the Bosphorus
Genya asked whether we would be standing for the concert, and David assured him, “Of course not. We’re too old for that. We’ll sit.” After dinner, David and I set off on foot for the concert, eager to get good seats in the general admission venue. Traffic was at a standstill, and the crowd thickened as we approached the open air arena beside the water. We were herded down behind the arena, moving slowly in a mass rather than a line. Ferries from the Asian side of the Bosphorus unloaded hundreds more attendees, further condensing the crowd. As we waited, we chatted with our Bağdat Street dentist friend and his wife—both music aficionados.
As we approached the arena it became apparent that there was seating only for the Istanbul elite. We would be groundlings, packed into the open arena like sardines. I wondered whether I’d be able to stand for two whole hours, but I was willing to give it a go.
“Speaking of ‘go,’ where are the bathrooms?” I asked David.
“Somewhere,” he assured me. “Somewhere.”
I decided not to buy a beer.
We ended up in the middle of the crowd on a bit of a ridge, so we could see the stage, though not well. We were probably 100 “people rows” back, about 50 yards from the stage. I figure there were something like 10,000 to 15,000 people packed in there. Amazing.
Fans a hundred deep ahead of us.
The concert started almost on time (amazing for Turkey). The crowd exploded as Clapton and Winwood stepped on stage, and from there it was sheer magic. The music was energetic and varied—stunning. Two huge screens beside the stage magnified the performers for us, and the camera work was exceptional.
Winwood on keyboard (screen shot)
Of course, it was all about the music—the crowd went wild for “Layla” and “Cocaine,” clapping and singing along. Midway through the concert, an amazing fireworks exhibition emerged over the Bosphorus. They had to turn up the sound to play over the staccato of the fireworks, but the effect was entrancing.
The fireworks (from whereseric.com)
There was NO standing still for any of us, and dancing made “standing room only” just that much better. Our only problems were the chain smoker next to me and David’s neighbor on the other side, who was more than exuberant—screaming, whistling, and jumping around all night long. Oh, my goodness. David dubbed him “Bubba.” It fit.
David and Bubba (in the brown)—active guy!
It was a hot evening, and you can’t imagine how much heat emanates from 15,000 dancing bodies. Thank goodness the Bosphorus breezes cooled at least our heads. It was a memorable night in every way. (And—I never needed to seek out the rest rooms. Whew!)
I don’t know how often these guys do an encore, but this crowd just wouldn’t give up—we INSISTED on yet another number, and we got it: “Dear Mr. Fantasy”
My second event of the week, not quite so spectacular in the “fame” arena, was the Lise Prep Bosphorus Cruise. Though it wasn’t my first boat cruise, it was wonderful to share it with my students and teaching peers. The day was warm, but the breezes kept us cool as we chatted, snapped photos, and admired the amazing homes and palaces along the water.
Beneath the Bosphorus suspension bridge
There’s really not so much to say about it except that it was an awesome way to spend our last afternoon of school. Really.
Robert College knows how to celebrate these wonderful kids.