Visiting the American Consulate in Istinye
I woke up this morning and realized that I’ve only got a few more days here before I head back to Seattle. I fly out on the morning of the 31st, but it seems like I just got here. I suppose time flies when you’re having fun. After my experience flying over here, I’m a little nervous to leave. Sort of like when you’ve taken a week or so to hike up into the woods and set up a base camp from which to explore for a week or so. The longer you’re there, the more difficult the hike out looks.
Today, Ned and I took a bus most of the way up the Bosporus to the neighborhood of Istinye in order to visit the American Consulate. Ned had to fill out a piece of paperwork that essentially asserts that he’s not married. This is the first step in getting married in Turkey when you’re an American (whether you’re marrying a Turk or not, it doesn’t matter). Apparently the United States does not take kindly to international polygamy. Now that Ned has this filled out, he needs to get it signed off by some Turkish governmental department and, depending on what they say, may need to get the permission of a village elder. Still your snickering tongue! I thought this was only a rural thing, but each neighborhood in Istanbul has a guy who is essentially the neighborhood elder. In Cihangir (the part of Beyoglu in which Ned lives) the elder lives right next door. Very convenient.
When we arrived in Istinye, we inquired about the location of the U.S. Consulate. A local directed us toward a busy street that led up into the hills. Ned didn’t know exactly what to expect, but he’d heard that the consulate is a very large and brutal looking building. We rounded a corner and, sure enough, on the hillside up ahead was one of the ugliest building’s I’ve ever seen. Side note: Have any of you noticed the University of Washington’s School of Architecture building? That IS the ugliest building I’ve ever seen—go figure.
We were greeted by a very cordial man who spoke near perfect English with a very strong Italian accent. He directed us inside where we had to leave any cameras and cell phones at the front desk before going through a security checkpoint. It was all very sterile and professional. Upon entering the business part of the compound, Ned remarked, “it’s just like the DMV.” I had to agree. We were even given a number.
After Ned completed the requisite paperwork, we left the consulate and walked back toward the water—about a half mile walk along a very busy street with an intermittent sidewalk. The consulate is not really designed to be accessible by foot—typically American I suppose.
We had to take the bus from Istinye to the next town up the Bosporus in order to catch the ferry heading back to Eminonu. I should note here that all of these places are in Istanbul, but Istinye is almost sort of a suburb. Somewhat like Shoreline as compared to metropolitan Seattle. The difference here is that these outlying neighborhoods are much more densely populated than suburbs around Seattle and they’re all part of Istanbul. It’s really a huge city, both in terms of population and square kilometers. On the ferry, we enjoyed a cool breeze and some very nice views. It was neat to be able to see much of the city center from a different perspective than I’ve become accustomed to. I also saw my first loud and annoying American tourists.
These people were everywhere when I was in Italy in 1999, but I suspect Istanbul is a bit too far out of range for most of them. These women had taken a Mediterranean cruise and had a layover in Istanbul. Their cruise ship is actually docked at the base of Beyoglu. How do I know this? Because they were sharing their conversations with everyone on our deck during much of the ferry ride down the Bosporus. I think that’s really the hallmark of loud, obnoxious, and moronic American tourists. They speak to each other as though nobody can understand English and therefore can’t hear anything they’re saying—like they’re in the America Dimension or something.
There were these Arab guys sitting in the back of the boat near Ned and I; a couple of them were giving these women the stank eye. I could hardly blame ’em; one of the women was actually yelling to her friend at one point—this on a boat deck that was no more than about 15 meters across and 20 meters long. As I said, this was the first I’ve seen of this in almost an entire month. The travelers I’ve come across during my time in Istanbul have generally seemed to be very respectful and very interested in being here. Despite all the tourist sites, the city really does not have a touristy feel. Even in Sultanahmet, the main tourist area, it’s pretty chill.
Alright, I’m off to take a shower and clean the city air grime off of me. Enjoy the photos.