Istanbul: The Collected Traveler

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  • Edition: Original
  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2009-09-15
  • Publisher: Vintage
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This unique guide features seductive, colorful, and in-depth articles that illuminate the dazzling treasures of Istanbul, from the Grand Bazaar to the Sultans' palaces, the delights of Turkish cuisine, and the people and personalities that define it today.

Author Biography

Barrie Kerper, a former journalist and avid traveler, is the editor of eight previous books in the Collected Traveler series.


Selected Excerpts and Anecdotes from
Istanbul: The Collected Traveler

(Note: Excerpts are written in the first-person voice of the editor, Barrie Kerper, unless otherwise attributed.)
"This is the most mysterious city on earth. I love the houses along the Bosphorus, the dervishes, Orhan Pamuk'sIstanbul, the fortune-teller who told a truth, the raucous greetings of the rug merchants ("I can take your money!"), and the fantastic Topkapý complex that looks like an ideal liberal arts college. But most of all I love the strange call of the muezzin, especially when it splits the air between dark and dawn. The voice begins with a drone, a wobbly shriek, then works up to intensity. It's old, old, primitive—it sounds like something pulled up from a deep fissure. Sometimes it sounds like an otherworldly cry from beyond, sometimes like sawing through cellophane. When I wake up hearing that call, I always get a delicious flash,I am somewhere very far from home."
—Frances Mayes, author ofA Year in the World: Journeys of a Passionate Traveller(2007) andUnder the Tuscan Sun(1997), among others

"Every trip is a journey, and a visit to Turkey can quickly come to seem epic. For one thing, there is your entire education spread out before you: Troy, the spot where Leander swam the Hellespont; Nicea (now Iznik), where the Catholic Church convened and produced its famous creed; Miletus, where Greek science and philosophy had their beginnings; Haghia Sofia, whose famous dome was the glory of Byzantine Christianity; and the Blue Mosque, whose equally famous dome and minarets were raised by Ottoman Mehmet II to celebrate Islam. Then there is Istanbul itself, an imperial city set on two continents on both sides of the Sea of Marmara, with a picture book castle, bazaars of all kinds—spice, fish, birds—and the Grand Bazaar with everything under the sun. A place where men in black pants run through the streets carrying slim cups of tea or coffee on brass trays swinging from a tripod of chains. In the midst of this bounty, I was lucky to have a cicerone who was himself magic. John Freely, sometimes joined by his wife, Dolores, old friends, kindly shepherded me and my nephew around the city sharing with us all kinds of historical and cultural facts.
"We stayed at a small, friendly establishment (which John Freely had suggested) at one end of the Hippodrome in the Sultanahmet neighborhood near Topkapý Palace and other delights. The Alzer is a simple hotel, but its location on the Hippodrome—the oval that had been laid down by Constantine for horse- racing—gave it a wonderful advantage, which it exploited by providing a breakfast room, surrounded on three sides by windows, on its top floor, the sixth, just one floor up from our own rooms.
"We discovered this soon-to-be-our-favorite spot on the first evening when the desk clerk suggested we could go up there to watch the sunset. When we stepped into it we realized we were essentially eyeball-to-eyeball with the dome of the Blue Mosque, with the rosy, red-orange dome of the Haghia Sofia floating slightly off in the distance, and the Sea of Marmara and a gorgeous sky behind them. It was a sight of such exoticism and beauty at every hour we saw it that we never tired of it, and we ended up going there at every opportunity—to have breakfast, to write letters, just to absorb all the fascinating new things we had seen during the day. Grand buildings always inspire, but the special gift of the room at the top of the Alzer Hotel was that it gave us an intimacy, a special feeling of ownership, even love, for these two famous landmarks, epic in their importance to art, religion, and history."
—Ann Close, longtime senior editor at Alfred A. Knopf, and editor of John Freely'sAladdin's Lamp: How

Excerpted from Istanbul: the Collected Traveler: An Inspired Companion Guide by Barrie Kerper
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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