Here are a few shots from my recent short but fulfilling visit to Istanbul.
Whenever I'm going to visit somewhere new, I like to try and learn about the culture, history and language of the place beforehand. This way, I can better understand the significance of the places I visit in their cultural and historical context and connect a little with the local people by trying to use their language (even if it's just a couple of words). Not to mention one of my pet peeves is tourists who go to a place without making any effort to learn basic phrases and expect the locals to speak English. 😒 To this end, I look for books (fiction and non-fiction) based in the country/city and documentaries and fit in as many as possible before travelling.
What do you do to prepare for a trip to a new place? Do you like to learn about it before you go?
My recent visit to Istanbul was quite last minute so I didn't get much opportunity to learn beforehand. Here is what I managed:
1) The Caliph (documentary by Al Jazeera English), from which I got an overview of the Ottoman Empire,
2) WWI Throught Arab Eyes (documentary by Al Jazeera English), which covered (amongst other things) the relationships between Turkey and the Arab and Western worlds in the pivotal decisions made in WWI,
3) The Birds Have Also Gone by Yashar Kemal (novella), based in Istanbul with a strong sense of place - to find out more, listen to my (spoiler-free) mini-episode about this book here,
4) The Ottoman Empire: 1300-1600 by Halil İnalcık, a detailed account of social, economic and political aspects of the Ottoman Empire during its growth and peak.
Reader. Occasional writer. Muslim.