Friday, November 6, 2009

Early Morning in Istanbul

If it wasn't strange enough waking up extra early in Istanbul to catch a plane back, it was even wilder to turn on the tv and see the Yankees-Phils 6th game picking it up in about the 6th inning. To me, the climax of the game was Damaso Martes striking out the two top Philly batsmen on six pitches. Rivera came in and did his usual (the only time he ever fluffed was that seventh game in Phoenix) and even this non-Yankee fan enjoyed the outcome. For one thing, how could I cheer for Philly--as a National League fan--it would be like rooting for Brooklyn (as a Giant follower). Hearing that they were stealing signs, though, brought back memories of the classic National League manager of all time: Leo.

Istanbul looks fantastic in the morning. The cab drove to the airport the old traditional way, down the main road along the Bosphorus to Karakoy and over the Galata Bridge, past Serkici station, where the Orient Express arrived, and around the historic peninsula past Topkapi Palace and out to Ataturk airport along the Sea of Marmara. It was a bit misty that early but the ferries were plying their way across the channels and early commuter trains and trams were already under way.

Now I have lots of reading to do to catch up on learning more about where I was--beginning with Orhan Pamuk's recollections of his native city in the eponymous book he wrote about and then one of the newer biographies of Ataturk, recalling having been recently told by another friend that Churchill bemoaned what he felt was the truth that Ataturk was the greatest man of the 20th century. Another friend has put me on to General Lew Wallace's account of the conquest of Constantinople--"better than his Ben Hur" was the recommendation.

Not only does Turkey have an incredible culture and attractions for visitors, of which I barely scratched what was a very rainy surface, but visiting there made one realize that the Europeans need to recognize their need to include the Turks in European affairs. As was noted in local media during my visit (and possibly because of the presence of Bill Clinton and Gerhard Schroder as well), there needs to be progress on human rights in the country, but one might recall that Bulgaria and Rumania were allowed into the EU before they really satisfied anyone with true reforms, especially in their judicial sectors.

Not to let grass grow under my feet I'm off again Sunday for a two-day stay in Bismarck, ND. Having never been to either part of the old Dakota Territory, I'm certainly looking forward to a new place and maybe seeing the hall of fame I understand they have for famous North Dakotans such as Lawrence Welk and Roger Maris.

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