East Meets West in Istanbul

Author: , April 29th, 2012

Gay Travel: East Meets West in IstanbulPulsing through the city and cooling the warm air, the Bosphorus splits Istanbul into its European and Asian parts. But this isn’t a city so simply divided. Each district has its unique flavour and each is a rich melting pot, fusing culture in its own way and simmering with activity. I’m staying in Beyoglu – the city’s modern secular centre.

I arrive on a hot afternoon after a bracing ride in one of the local cabs from Atatuerk airport. The door to the apartment block is thick solid wood, painted black and seems to be the only thing holding up the fragile building. A few doors down someone is selling Turkish delight from huge jars and a handsome twenty-something is delivering bottles of water from his motorbike trailer, his Levi’s and leather jacket not even bringing a drop of sweat to his face; he smiles easily as he passes. Bugger blending in, first chance I get, the tourist shorts, t-shirt and sandals are changed into, in front of the large fan that is switched to the highest setting.

WiFi signal found, I check out Scruff and discover the International IstanBear Festival has just started. I go to the bear club night and get chatting to some locals and fellow travellers: a surgeon on sabbatical from Jordan; an accountant between jobs from Jerusalem; a historian from Israel.

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