Across Continents

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European City of Culture

I was really pleased to be back in Trabzon, eastern Turkey. They’d be a brief stop-over in Istanbul. The city seemed different, much more unfriendly, almost aggressive, than when I’d passed through on my way to Malta just five weeks earlier. The four am flight probably hadn’t helped, but despite dozing for just a few hours on the plane, I didn’t feel at all tired.

Wandering through the old city, the streets noticeably busier with tourists, prices hiked accordingly, I headed for a place I knew offered decent coffee. I found myself viewing others with suspicion, and disliked myself for doing so. Whilst the various scams I’d encountered on my previous visits had not yet been evident, my cynicism was not without some justification. I’d sought to obtain some more US Dollars in a Bureaux de Change, only to catch them trying to palm me an old high denomination note. No apology, just a shrugging of the shoulders.

consulate

Seems a touch ironic now, but later in the day I found myself in a small second floor office in an old apartment block. It had taken a while to find, a small sign and an even smaller sticker on the entrance buzzer. I was sure he said he didn’t actually speak Kyrgyz so my efforts at a greeting fell flat. But the Consul’s English was good, his manner warm and friendly. Return in the morning, he explained, and I could have a one month tourist visa for the Kyrgyz Republic. Said how much I was looking forward to visiting the Capital, Bishkek. Remember thinking to myself it would probably be a much more friendly city than Istanbul.

buzzer

The next day the Consul was true to his word and I had my visa. Then off to the airport, onward to eastern Turkey. It was time to leave the European City of Culture.

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