9-12 September 2023

I visited Istanbul in 1981, the population was 2.7 million, about half of whom were carpet salesmen. Tanks and armed military, machine guns with bayonets fixed, occupied the streets. Being ignorant of their politics, I thought perhaps the military was there to keep the street urchins at bay. They were failing – the military not the urchins.

In 2010, I celebrated my birthday in Constantinople. A lot had changed. The military was absent. The street urchins became Gen Xers. I was a bit older and a more knowledgeable and experienced traveler. Istanbul, historically known as Constantinople was the world’s 5th largest city with 12.8 million people in 2010. It now ranks 7th with over 15 million. There still are thousands of carpet salesmen, but distributed among them is a vibrant collection of perhaps the nicest, most helpful people I have ever met. Also, here are the nicest bunch of cats in the world.