Istanbul 5

I’m up at 6:30am and go down to the hotel swimming pool. Half an hour swimming revives me. The journey back from Istanbul to SFe from Istanbul takes 24 hours!

Our hosts in Istanbul were very gracious and their hospitality unmatched. This journey is one not soon forgotten.

Istanbul 4

Today is the day for the big tour. We see the Grand Bazaar, the Blu Mosque, and Santa Sofia. Jon buys a Saz, a 3 course Turkish stringed instrument, I buy a couple of books on Sinan, the incredible architect of the Suleyman reign, the golden age of the Ottoman empire.

Istanbul 3

I get up really early, at 4:30am, and take my DAT recorder to record the muezzin’s call to prayer at the Blue Mosque, and three other mosques before sunrise. The call is amplified through relatively small megaphone-like loudspeakers at the top of the towers, which distort the voice like a guitar amplifier. The voice echoes off the walls of the old town. I get drunk from the magnificent sound.

Afterwards the driver takes me to a little tea-shop by the river where waiters, clad in leather jackets, deliver fragrant tea in small cups to the waiting cars.

All afternoon our crew sets up the stage, then we have a lengthy rehearsal/soundcheck, because we haven’t played together in several weeks. As always we brim with new ideas and the band sounds wonderful. In the evening we do the short 75 minute show for Roche. The audience is all dressed up in Tuxedos…

By 11pm we have all assembled for drinks in the Kempinsky hotelbar, band and crew and my friends Rolf and Michael, who have come from Cologne, Germany, and from Ankara, Turkey, where Michael is a News correspondent for
German television. I’m buying rounds of Cape Cods, before we discover that the Turkish cherry juice tastes great with vodka. It gets you drunk…

Istanbul 2

I’m up by 5:30am and stand on the balcony, listening to the morning prayers from the mosques on the other side, the Asian side of the Bosperus river. Then swimming the hotel’s pool from 7:00am until 7:45am. Breakfast with Jon at 8AM.

Later we get a guided tour of the wonderous Suleyman Mosque, then a visit of the incredible, ancient, underground water-storage-system, and the Topkapi Palace.

I start thinking of the programming of a people, which is basically a country’s Constitution. In Europe the oldest son would almost always inherit the throne, and he was often not the most talented ruler of the king’s children. The Ottoman empire didn’t have a rule like that. Any child of the Sultan could inherit the throne and sometimes a son would kill 9 others to inherit the throne and become Sultan himself. The programming: Only the fiercest survive. And many didn’t survive for long, because the average rule of a Sultan was only 10-15 years. The result of this was, that the empire was very aggressive and expanded to a rule three times the size
of the USA.

Our, democratically elected, President has only 4 years to steer the country in a direction. That’s a brief time. And because of that we all want to see instant results all the time. We don’t build places of prayer that take 350 years to complete, we don’t build Monuments to our society that take hundreds of years to finish. Instead we complain when our internet access is less that 33.6k, or we have to wait half an hour for a meal. We have no long-term vision.

In the evening our hosts have arranged a private ferry across the Bosphorus to a dinner in Fish restaurant in Asia. The fresh fish is brought to the table and shown and we pick which fish we would like and get it prepared to order. After dinner we go to a nightclub. They are playing our music, from the album “Borrasca”, and we think it is a set-up, but our hosts assure us the nightclub plays our music all the time. After less than an hour at the club the music becomes unbearably loud and we beg to leave.

Istanbul

I get up a little after 4 am on the 16th and drive to Albuquerque, where I meet Jon. We fly Albuquerque-Atlanta-New York-Istanbul and that takes about 23 hours. At JFK we have to carry our gear, several flight cases of stuff, from the Delta Terminal to the Turkish Air counter in the International Terminal, and we barely make the flight. The airport is not very well designed. The Turkish airplane has a strange and very bright colorscheme. Light blue and orange seats. We arrive in Istanbul in the morning of the 17th and are driven to the Kempinski Hotel, which is a former palace, built as the Ottoman empire was ending in around WW1. By 2pm we are exploring the city. The Bosperus flows right in front of our hotel and we can see Asia on the other bank.