The End of the Beginning: Istanbul

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning
– Winston Churchill

The first thing I realised on this trip was that it was impossible to think about it in its entirety. To climb on to my bicycle and say “right, let’s go to India” would be verging on madness! I remember from school how my teachers used to suggest we approach coursework. “How”, they would ask, “do you eat an elephant?” In tiny chucks. And that is exactly how I have been approaching this trip. Each day belongs to a week, each week to a country, and each country to a continent. But I never really looked beyond Istanbul. Somehow this was always a huge marker; the crossing between Europe and Asia. A step into the unknown. It marks, rather approximately, the one-third distance of my trip. I just need to do the same distance again, twice, then I’ll be in India. This may not be the end, or even the beginning of the end, but it may just be the end of the beginning.

Istanbul is a terrific city. I used the word because I’m not too sure what other word I can justifiably apply. The city is a hive of activity. I’ve yet to find a quiet street. The ferries cross the Bosphorus between Europe and Asia in a non-stop back and forth. The call for prayer echoes eeriely at nightfall and daybreak, and glittering minarets pierce the cloudless blue sky. I’ve never been anywhere quite like it.

I’ve had a great week off the bike, joined by my wonderful girlfriend Maya. I now cross the Bosphorus and head into Asia alone. I can’t quite decide if it’s fear, or last night’s questionable sausages that are causing the strange sensation in the pit of my stomach.


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