Spring, Eurovision and Besiktas football

Trip Start Oct 03, 2002
Trip End Jun 30, 2003

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Flag of Turkey  ,
Monday, May 26, 2003

Spring came suddenly to Turkey, now in Istanbul the sun is shining wonderfully and finally I see the sun in Turkey. After all the snow and rain for months, the weather is making up for it.

Istanbul looks different in lots of ways now it is being shone on by the bright sun, the street sellers now sell candy floss, children's bright plastic toys and balloons instead of umbrellas and screwdrivers sets. People make picnics everywhere that they can (sorry Eurovision pun, 'everyway that I can'), sat right by the busy roads of Istanbul, a family watch their father as he tends to the BBQ and smoke bellows out into the road, the ladies meanwhile are heating water to make 'cay' on a small camp gas stove. Turkish people are really resourceful and would not go on a picnic without tea I now discovered.

People sit on their balconies and are making people watching a fine art, children play in the small parks and on the roads and the trees that line the streets in where I live, Bakirkoy, oranges are growing.

As I pass over the 'Halic' most mornings to work at the university, the golden horn - Istanbul's natural harbour, the houses seems so colourful and not grey and dismal anymore, and many trees, flowers and bushes seem to dance in the light breeze from the waters whilst the halic glistens in the sunlight. You can also see at what first looks like a haze from the heat, but is in fact the smog from Istanbul, thick and grey fog at the baseline of the city, covering everything from sight on some hot days. Then I realised how polluted this city must be, this combined with the regular passive smoking I am unwillingly participating in, I should go have a check up and see if my lungs are ok!

This weekend was a particularly exciting one for Istanbul and its people. Two victories; the first of course the Eurovision Song Contest, Turkey's entry sang in English but with some Turkish feel in the beat and of course the eastern dancing, those girls could make noise alright from their hip scarves! And I have to mention about the UK entry, as I am already receiving much jeering from my colleagues and friends to our zero score. Many Turkish news stations are reporting that countries abstained from giving the UK points in protest over the war, but come on let's be honest we really sucked! My American friend had came over to watch (her first Eurovision experience), I saw Turkey's entry and then maybe 10 more whilst Rebecca really was quite amused that this was really MUSIC in Europe and she revelled in watching the funniest music she had ever seen on this contest, I feel asleep (as we were out dancing and drinking the night before with people from Columbia, America, Australia, Spain and of course Turkey) and she woke up to tell me 'Hey Turkey won, and the UK scored nothing', well I first said wow, so cool Turkey won and then realised she had said the UK scored nothing...and I then heard Terry Wogan moaning about not getting points and then I started to laugh so hard, oh poor Terry!

The second victory was that of Istanbul's football team Besiktas, scoring in the 89th minute it was a close one and then the celebrating started. At home with my housemate, she warns me as I put my head out the window to see what the noise was about and to watch out for gun fire! Cars beep and supporters are hanging out the windows waving the Besiktas colours. Then more noise, this time the biggest flag I had seen, simply black, white and black striped (their colours) and many young boys holding and chanting their team's football song...as I watched many more came out of their homes to join and increase the noise level even higher, some cars came and tried to pass but no way were these people even thinking of moving for the cars to pass, Turkish are passionate and football is their ultimate passion. It is coincidentally Besiktas's centennial year and their stadium overlooks Dolmabahce Palace and the Bosphorous strait looking towards Asia.
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