What happens when a long dreamed, awaited and imagined journey … becomes reality?
First of all, you try to live it to the fullest – and for as long as you can – collecting experiences, places and meetings, which one day will become your memories of the Silk Road. A baggage of indelible – and incredible – memories, which you would never think you could be able to create.
Then you leave your bicycle somewhere.
Because even if you want to believe that by now everything is all over … you actually know that nothing will ever end.
8 December, Istanbul ◀ Day 437 🇬🇪 – 🇹🇷 ▶
Turkey’s first welcome, with a chaotic and tedious border crossing in the middle of pushes, crying children and a heavy storm, was not absolutely the best.
Probably it wanted to make me pay somehow my decision to cut it all – at this stage – with a long bus ride from Batumi, with no stop whatsoever in between.
But then Istanbul’s greeting arrived.
With these colors and shapes, just after yesterday’s post about sea and seagulls on a gray Georgian coast.
So I still have to understand how to recover from the amazement for such a sudden change.
And such a beauty.
9 December, Istanbul ◀ Day 438 🇹🇷 ▶
13 December, Istanbul ◀ Day 442 🇹🇷 ▶
I wanted to write a single post about Istanbul.
I wanted to do it tomorrow, on my last day in Turkey before going back home.
Every evening, though – whether I’m walking on the European side of the city or whether I’m on a boat or directly on the Asian side, where my hostel is located – Istanbul gives me something like this.
While the seagulls sing.
And me with them.
14 December, Istanbul ◀ Day 443 🇹🇷 ▶
It is no coincidence that Istanbul is the final stage of this part of the journey.
I’ve never told anyone, but Istanbul has always been there.
When, more than two years ago, I decided that it was time to leave for a while, nobody knows that the first idea I dreamed upon was to reach Istanbul by bicycle.
Not a folding one, nor on a hybrid trip; I really wanted to pedal all the way.
The reason why I chose Istanbul is unknown to me. It sounded distant and exotic, and that was enough for me to elect it as the destination of those hypothetical few sabbatical months.
But then my idea changed.
The idea of travelling with a folding bicycle arrived and I went for a more “feasible” – and never regretted – route to the Cyclades.
I actually touched Istanbul, just before flying to Santorini, working with a friend on a cruise group.
I remember very little of that day, and the city was given too little tome to leave something unforgettable.
But I also remember that, after the ship left the harbour and I was staring at the bay unfolding in front of me, I was not able to distinguish the end of the byzantine metropolis. Istanbul was everywhere. Immeasurable. It only disappeared after more than an hour; only when the earth, now imperceptible, matched with water.
At that moment I promised myself I would have come back one day.
I never thought, however, that I would undertake such a long route to do it: Europe, Russia, Mongolia, China, Southeast Asia, China again, Central Asia, Iran and then the Caucasus, in almost 15 months of travel, have been an incredible viaticum which I could simply never imagine before.
And so tomorrow, after a whole week in Istanbul, I will leave the place that was supposed to be the goal of my first hypothetical journey.
The idea is to come back again. In spring, with warmer climate, so to close the whole circle with a new slow way by land.
But ideas, as already happened, may change; I can’t know what will happen in the coming weeks and the next months, just as I can’t be totally certain that I will manage to complete the whole thing as I have planned to do. The bicycle, if nothing else, will stay here to remind me of the commitment.
Although one thing is certain: my bicycle is not the only thing I am leaving here, this time.
A part of my heart will remain firmly bundled up In Istanbul too.
And no way I’ll try to steal it away from here.
15 December, Istanbul ◀ Day 444 🇹🇷 ▶
Honestly, it seems strange that nobody really thought about it, buuuuuut … what if it all was another joke?
Then don’t tell me I didn’t say anything 😂😚
So no, it was not another joke.
Got to be Santa Claus for someone new, this year.
And I cannot wait.