Making and changing plans – “Is this the end of the innocence?”

The institute starts on July 8th. I knew I wanted to be there at least a day early. After looking over the schedule, I saw that there were a few places that I didn’t see in 2010 and that weren’t on the itinerary this time either. I arranged my flight to arrive on the 5th, then I would have a couple days to recover from the jet lag and go see the Rumeli Fortress.

The first hotel for the institute was to be the Gemir Palas, overlooking Taksim Square. I decided to find a hotel near there, but a little cheaper, and found a great place. I was excited because it was in a part of town, the New District, that we didn’t really visit in 2010 and close to the main shopping and entertainment street, Istiklal Caddesi. I could also get to the Museum of Innocence rather easily – more about that in a minute.

and then the protests began…

I’m a little alarmed, but knowing a little about Turkey’s history and government, I think it is closer to the Tea Party or Occupy protests than the Arab Spring.

and then the government got a little too aggressive…

The institute decided to relocate our first hotel to the hotel we will spend the bulk of our time, after we returned from our excursions to the other towns, the Hotel Arcadia in the Sultanahmet district. So I then had to fight a little with my hotel to cancel my reservation. They tried to assure me that everything was alright, even telling me that after the first couple of days of protests that everything was “like a carnivale.”  My first thought when reading these emails was that of Bill Murray’s character in Caddyshack, Carl, saying to the bishop, “I’d keep playing. I don’t think the heavy stuff’s gonna come down for quite awhile.” And we know how that turned out.

Anyway, I cancelled that hotel and found a beautiful place with a view of the Blue Mosque from the rooftop terrace. I will still go to the places I am planning on, I’ll just have to make a couple more transfers and trips on their mass transit.

Back to the Museum of Innocence. One of my favorite authors in the past couple of years is Orhan Pamuk. He’s a Turkish novelist, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, and writes these great stories of obsession set in Istanbul and other parts of Turkey. One of his books is The Museum of Innocence, which is the story of a man’s obsession with a woman and how he ultimately creates a museum filled with objects that he has collected during his time with her. Everyday objects that show life in Istanbul, souvenirs of places they went together, her cigarette butts. Love meets obsession. As Pamuk was writing the book, he also planned a real museum, which he opened over a year ago in the neighborhood the book was set.

If you bring your book with you, there is a ticket printed in the text that gives you free admission. So, yes, I’m bringing my copy to Istanbul.

On the Museum’s Facebook page, they shared a picture someone took during the recent protests.


I hope Don Henley is wrong.


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