The next part of our tour was Christopher’s favorite. After we docked back on the European side we got back on the bus and took it to a very unique area of town high up on a beautiful hillside overlooking the Bosphorus. Trevor told us the story of how a while back the Kurdish citizens of Istanbul were fed up with the government not spending any tax dollars in the Kurdish areas of the country. So, overnight, they moved en mass onto a beautiful area of land with a gorgeous view, originally both privately owned and government owned. The land had been set aside for eventual real estate development, but the Kurds moved onto it by building these gecekondu structures and refused to leave. Unfortunately, this set off decades of conflict in the area between the government and the Kurdish people as the government tried to intimidate them into leaving.
Today, it seems they are left alone for the most part, but the neighborhoods are very poor and have very little government funded utilities. Our guides brought us to a Kurdish school in the neighborhood where we mingled with the children and watched a music class. Chris loved it. It was so much fun to see the kids, all so happy in their uniforms, excitedly asking for us to take their pictures with our phones so they could see themselves. It was a really nice experience.
From there we headed out to the suburbs of Istanbul for a home cooked lunch by Fethi’s mother and her friend. Some of the best food you could ever have! We also walked through a marketplace on the way to their home in a walk-up apartment building. I was quite uncomfortable the whole time as I had to go to the bathroom and embarrassed myself tremendously by rushing everyone along. It is my firm belief that every single vacation I ever have will include an embarrassing event where I need to go to the bathroom at an inopportune time. So humiliating!
It was worth the ride out, though, as the food was to die for and the company was fantastic. Everyone gathered together around low tables sitting on pillows talking and laughing with Trevor and Fethi and Fethi’s family.