Tom Simard

Poetry, Music, and Prose

Archive for the tag “Europe”

Istanbul

While I’ve traveled widely in the United States, Canada, and Europe, I’ve only just stepped into Asia:

775px-OldBosphorus_colorized

Istanbul is a city with a mood:

The Blue Mosque

Agia-sofia

Cistern(Photographer: Moise Nicun)

The decorative tiles are stunning:

Topkapi_Palace_(6526101629) by David Stanley

G.dallorto2(Photographer: G.dallorto)

Georges Jansoone(Photographer: Georges Jansoone)

Salep is something to savor.

And if you’re like me and have got a sweet tooth, you’ll not be disappointed:

Yasinuslu34(Photographer Yasiunuslu34)

elif ayse

(Photographer: elif ayse)

Loukoumades

Visit the Grand Bazaar:

grandbazaar Dmgulteken(Photographer: Dmgulteken)

And the Spice Bazaar:

800px-Istanbul_spice_bazaar_02(Photographer: Takeaway)

And by all means haggle.  I’m not particularly comfortable doing so, but it is expected and somewhat of a game. Any misgivings you have should disappear if you realize not doing so will mean paying considerably more than what’s expected.

Turkish hospitality if not famous should be.

Visiting the city made me want to explore other parts of the country as well. Top on the list would be CappadociaSmyrna, and Ephesus.

Since our visit I’ve read two books by Orhan Pamuk, both of which I liked, but Snow especially.  I found Mango’s book on Ataturk to be a great read.  Clot’s book on Suleiman the Magnificent and Crowley’s Constantinople: The Last Great Siege  are both excellent.

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Vive la France! Vive la République!

America never was America to me. Bear this in mind as you read. Ideals may not always be realized, but few would choose to live in a world where they did not exist.

My paternal grandfather died when my dad was young so he grew up on the farm where his mother had been raised. The Great Depression had just begun, and they were fortunate to have land that gave them all they needed at a time in which so many had so very little. Since my grandmother worked, he was looked after by his French Canadian grandparents.

French was spoken, and on the balcony during the summer, it was sung. My father had a French first name, and the meals served were traditional Quebec cuisine.

His grandfather must have been an important role model for him so it’s easy to understand why it was with such sadness that he told me the story of his death.  Among the many people who came to pay final respects was a French Métis, who worked for him as a handyman. Once he had left, my great-grandfather asked for water to cleanse his hands. He felt defiled.

It’s hard to say how instrumental this experience was in shaping my father’s perceptions of the world. I do know I was fortunate never to have heard a racist comment from him, which was decidedly different from the wider environment where I heard people routinely categorized in ways in which I’m sure you are all too familiar.

As he grew he was fascinated with the French Revolution, whose ideals he admired – before, of course, it started eating its children.  And, of course, as a  young man there was France and the battle in Europe against Nazism.

The only memory I have of him crying is when he heard La Marseillaise.

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