From Berlin to Istanbul

December 16, 2014

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“Write more!” She asked me. I was fumbling some sort of excuses, reasons for not posting on the blog so much.

“Then I know what happens to you…” I have really been meaning to write these last few days, in Berlin, about Berlin but there was so much to see and do in too little time. Millions of impressions, sights, thoughts coursed through my mind. Berlin is so alive, it talks through its everything. Buildings, pavements, patched bullet holes, radiant galleries, ubiquitous tourist attractions, small cafes, the people… and on and on and on.

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I had been in Berlin when the wall was still there dividing the city into two worlds. I remember the contrast between the lights and vibe of the west and the grayness and forbiding of the east. The sight of soldiers with machine guns, barbed wire. I remember going through an underground passage where one had to get DDR money and spend it and that we were not allowed to take it back with us. The ominous feeling that life was not worth much in the hands of that system. Maybe it was my over-excited mind back then but it really had in impact on me.

So I went back to see the Brandeburg gate, which I you could not approach then, I saw Checkpoint Charlie, there was an interesting inner bubbling.

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There was the frog… We saw it in one of the S bahn stations(Prinz something station) a frog wearing a golden crown, sitting on a white globe of a light. It was the only location where I saw such a thing… why? why this frog here? the conclusion was that it is because it is the Prinz station, the prince who had been turned into a frog and needed a kiss to revert to his human shape? seems likely.

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I must thank my hosts… Levka and Gesine who offered their hospitality. THANK YOU!

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So right now… Istanbul. Yes I am back. I felt great joy when, below the clouds,I saw the land and the light. In the morning, I had made my way to the airport early, I had too much luggage to consider having to run for anything so for my 13:30 flight I left around 10:30. But when I arrived to Tegel airport and went to the Turkish airlines desk something was in the air. First the check in counter was not open and I was sent to the sales desk where I lined up and watched the attendants emphatically talking on the phone and running back and forth… they offered me to take an earlier flight as my flight was delayed because of fog in Istanbul. Yeah, sure I said. But that meant that I now had to run to the other check in desk as the flight was to take off in 20 minutes. I made it to the gate in the last moments of the load in process. I expected to gate check my guitar, but when I asked, I was told to take it in the cabin. Inside the cabin flight attendants with reproachfully raised eyebrows asked me I twice if I had purchased a seat for the guitar, to that I could now answer that I had been instructed by the gate attendant to take it inside the plane… so the guitar got a warm flight inside the plane, yea. I realize that the best way to go about avoiding to have the guitar loaded with the luggage is to just inconspicuously take it with me all along, all the way to the plane and worst case scenario, it goes in the hold but from the gate so it doesn’t get smashed around.

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Upon landing in Istanbul, it’s warm, smell of cigarettes, excited voices rising, people running around… passport check was a breeze, at Ataturk airport it can be horrid, with huge line ups, but this time it was fast. The luggage came out fast too. I removed my down jacket, now too much for the temperatures. I got everything on my back, human donkey, and headed for the exit. When you come out of the security zone at this airport, you get what I believe would be the feeling of being a horse coming into an auction ring… a low wall barely contains the hundreds waiting for their friends, guests and family with signs, flowers and expectant eyes. There they are piled up, at least 10 deep behind the wall, overflowing at both ends in a human wall. I come alone, so I don’t have to find anyone in this crowd and walk by quickly. Outside, I get to the Havatas bus stop only to see it take off. I have to wait 30 minutes. I stand there, watching the people run this or that way, the taxi drivers hustling for fares, they look hungrily at the line of us waiting for the bus hoping for someone to change their minds. “Taxi! Taxi!” Three men greet each other, hugging then kissing on the cheek. The music… yea, it rolls out of car speakers, baglamas, rhythms, voices that vow to love each other forever.

In Taksim, I grab once more all this luggage and head towards Chillout. I feel good. I feel at peace. The crowd is thick but I make good progress unheeded. There is an intelligence at work in this crowd. Everyone avoids me nicely, despite my width and length with all this stuff. I am incredibly tired, I didn’t sleep much the night before, but I feel so good to be here. The guitar and the suitcase pull my muscles, my clavicles braced, unhappy about the load, I switch the guitar from right to left from time to time. I have a little over 1 km and I’ll be there. Balyoz sokak, turn right, from the distance I see Erdem, then Talat, as I walk those last steps I smile more and more as I now see Orcun, Pelin. Warm embraces. “Come in!” they help me grabbing each piece of luggage. It’s a beautiful moment.

They ask of America, of my family, of where I’ve been and how I feel. To rewind back two months earlier, the desert of California where my friends are, riding the bikes, doing the job I went to do, the new friends I made, the flight to Montreal, always a place of memories, to be into the fold of security of my family. A snow storm, then some 40 hours of travel from Montreal to Poland, then from Poland to Berlin, then back here… It suddenly looks like an odyssey.

The wild thing is that I will leave again on the 23rd. Only a few days away really. I’ll go to Amsterdam, a trip I had booked before I knew I was to make this journey to North America, or go to Poland and Berlin… the plan is to hitchhike from Amsterdam to Porto, Portugal, stopping to see friends on the way. I need to start preparing for that, I must get some thermal underwear, a poncho for the possible rain and maybe a sleeping bag.

Last night Pelin gave me a private room with bathroom for two days, until the week end customers show up, and that is absolute luxury to me. I really enjoyed it last night and will again tonight. I have to be reasonable this week and keep resting and getting stronger to be ready for the upcoming journey.

In the mean time there will be two concerts with Baris this week and I’m very much looking forward to that.

All is well. Hugs all around.

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One Response to “From Berlin to Istanbul”

  1. Erika Koenig-Workman Says:

    Hi 🙂

    you sure get around happy that your happy

    e


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