4 months before we visited Istanbul, I started reading history books and listening to history podcasts about Istanbul. I wanted to read a fiction novel too, but I ran out of time.
I had heard that reading a novel set in a city, before you went to the city, was thing.
I never quite understood how reading could enhance my travel experience… but I get it now!
I read about all the significant Emperors of Byzantine/Constantinople/Istanbul (from 300 BC!) their career highlights and low lights, their life story, their wives and children, the current state of the city, the mood of the people, their political alliances, why they decided to spend money in a certain way and build certain buildings…
Then to actually SEE those buildings, their remnants, the city and the streets in which they walked… it made me feel like I was visiting old crazy friends and seeing their handiwork.
It made me feel like a time traveller and a possessor of secrets.
It added so much depth to everything I saw.
I absolutely loved how all the places I visited was brought to life by the stuff floating around in my head and heart.
I felt connected, empathic, humble, small. I felt like a little speck in the timeline of life.
And I had sooo many pinch-me moments and spine-tingling moments that went well beyond “wow that’s so pretty”.
I’ll definitely be doing this again the next time we travel to a new city.
(My next travel wishlist is Italy and Greece!)
Here’s to a lot more reading and travelling soon!