11 April, 2010

İstanbul, day 3: Emirgan - laleler hacısı

Day 3: Emirgan - laleler hacisi

Why do i keep heading north so single-mindedly, you might ask? Well, Istanbul in April is home to the International Tulip Festival (Türkçede: Uluslararası Lale Zamanı), a spectacular display of blooms throughout the city - Topkapı, Eyüp, and Çamlıca already proved that. According to the festival website, the biggest mass plantings lay at Emirgan Park. So without knowing quite what i'd find, i knew i had to snag some photographs for the generous Garden Club Federation of Maine members whose scholarship in part made this journey possible. Gosh, suddenly i feel like PBS ("and by members like you.")

At any rate, i had no idea from the map just how far from Taksim Emirgan was. I tread further and further north, the second bridge well behind. I met a Turk slowly ambling along, and found he spoke fluent Ingilizce, so we walked and talked together about his work in the shipping industry, about my impressions and reactions to Türkiye, and our common love of photography, until he stopped at a mescid for prayer.


Finally i arrived at Emirgan - and the journey, my tulip pilgrimage - was worth it. The photographs speak for themselves; underneath newly-leafed shade trees thousands of tulips in every imaginable shade grew. The park was filled with people. A common Saturday-afternoon destination, i guess, intensified by interest in the festival. Every where i looked people were snapping photographs - of themselves, their friends, and tulips. Tulips. Tulips. Near the White Kiosk a band was playing a wide range of tunes, from Mustafa Ceceli's popular ballad Dön to quick instrumental dance music, while children danced kolbastı on the cobble stones. Nearby, men prayed in a small outdoor mescid, while festivalgoers bought tulıps and other bulbs from a small, again municipally owned, shop. Of the surprisingly few images i took away from Emirgan, this one is my favorite, summing up the energy of the park in one intimate scene.