Forming a bridge between Europe and Asia, Turkey offers travellers a unique blend of eastern and western cultures that have arisen from an unparalleled history. The empires of the Ottomans, Hittites and Ancient Greeks have all called Turkey their own, leaving behind a vast assortment of bewildering monuments and archaeological wonders. Modern Turkey also offers expansive (though not expensive) shopping opportunities within the many exotic bazaars and city boutiques, especially in Istanbul, the capital city. With its picturesque resorts on an expansive coastline, Turkey also offers tourists the ability to relax and soak in the sun, as well as the culture and history.

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Istanbul Bazaar

The Shoeshine wandering Istanbul's bazaars and side streets, led me to a simple yet memorable moment. The withered gentleman approached; I knew avoidance was hopeless. So when he pointed to my rather sad shoes, I could only nod and smile. This was to be my first hired shoeshine, possibly his millionth. Opulence surely, akin to a spa manicure or 8000 yen coffee in Kobe, but justifiable as a worthy cause I thought. I gave him the universal “How much?” hand signals. He raised two fingers; the haggling was over. His strong left hand held my ankle, while his right softly rubbed black shine into the leather - fast and exact was his knack. The longer he worked, the more relaxed I became. The street noise, that only moments before was an annoyance, suddenly vanished. When finished, he rose with great difficulty; I place my hand under his arm for re-assurance. Passing him the US dollars, we looked at one another for a moment. Gratitude was exchanged with nods. Then lifting his ancient brass kit of brushes, polish, and potions, he turned to again walk the streets in search of other needy shoes. I lingered, watching, till the crowds envelope him.

Submitted by:
Paul D., Kingston