I have been in Istanbul with my daughter Medb for almost four days. Indeed, this visit is a respite. When I returned to Athens the night before my flight to Istanbul, I was disheartened. My week on Spetses made clear how Greece will suffer if all attempts to overcome past economic practices don’t work. Already, hospitals have cut back on services and in some places, electricity is turned off on a regulated basis. In the taxi ride from Piraeus to my posh hotel in Athens, I saw the anger of the poor and the young against the rich and established. The hotel, St. George Lycabettus, is located in the upscale neighborhood of Kolonoki on a hill opposite the Acropolis. However, the graffiti festooned on almost every building destroys the charm of the leafy streets of exclusive shops and restaurants. In Athens, there is no escape.
Istanbul rests my eyes. It appears cleaner, more genteel, more hospitable than Athens. I know this view is most likely the result of my own ignorance. I am staying at a sweet hotel with a rooftop garden where I have breakfast every morning and gaze out the windows at the Bosphorus. My excursions have taken me to a rug shop, a jewelry shop in the Grand Bazaar, the Hippodrome and an excursion up and down the Bosphorus. Everywhere I travel, I have felt welcomed and encounter beauty wherever I turn my gaze.