Within moments of touching down in Turkey I was overwhelmed by a good feeling. It was one of those mysteriously positive, hopeful, excited feelings.
I had already met one Turkish man in Zagreb Airport who had given me the name of a couple of renowned local eateries. After a smooth flight over patch-worked landscape and wide ship-spotted seas, I was surprised to find the airport was a breeze. It was only $15 Euro for a 90 day visa (and I got change from my $20); I was ushered straight through immigrations and customs; my bags ready when I got to the carousel; I was handed a free map at tourist info; and a nice Italian couple were willing to share a fast and furious taxi ride to the same hostel.
Stepping onto the streets of Sultanahmet, I was greeted by smells of nargile (or sheesha / Turkish water pipes), the call to pray echoing of the old stone walls and the persistent calls of carpet vendors. A short stroll through the dusk-lit streets and I found myself at a restaurant serving traditional Turkish music and dance with the lamb shish kabab and orange tea.
The male dancer was mesmerising. He wore a white, skirted costume and thimble-like hat while circling gracefully to drums, kanun and hauntingly beautiful Arabic lyrics. Within minutes, my eyes were brimming with emotion in what I will remember as one of those powerfully compelling travel experiences.