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''Just you, me and the Bosporus Sea''

We trudged along the icy slopes of Cappadocia, past fluffy cats with old-fashioned names and local men who’d mistake our awkward smiles for open invites.

It hurt to even breathe but I was more than willing to risk hypothermia for a smoke, standing outside antique stores that sold overpriced souvenirs and promises of wine under the moonlight.

We watched hot-air balloons rise against a snow-sprinkled valley of imagination, leisurely nibbling on a breakfast platter of goat cheese and pickled veggies. Like dreamy-eyed travellers living within a snow globe made of Turkish tinsel.

We rediscovered the simple joy of going to a supermarket, excited to get a sample of local treats before we’d stumble back to our hotel room. As grand plans of exploring the town’s nightlife came to a halt, we spent the night in, chronicling tales of heartbreaks and hysteria through mouths stuffed with cream & onion flavoured potato crisps.

We wandered along the ancient hallways of Hagia Sophia, gravitating towards any hint of warmth the Byzantine cathedral could provide.

For days we’d make plans to check out a jazz club near our Airbnb but our evenings were mostly a medley of baroque pop and indie rock.

Our week of adventures wasn’t one without struggles, of course.

Like sisters-in-arms, we braved the mid-day downpours that refused to give us a break, finding comfort in each other’s coat pockets as our patience grew thin in the capital’s Grand Bazaar. It was hard to keep our enthusiasm going when new predicaments arose and restlessness set in by the end of our trip.

We slouched back in our seats, momentarily insulated from the night air that sunk its teeth into our cheekbones. Despite the cold, we were determined to live out this frosty fairy-tale of ours, one vapid little joke at a time.

Abuzz with polite chatter and a centralised heating system, the restaurant we decided to dine in for the evening felt like a safe space, offering a charming view of the Galata Square along with a menu that didn’t make our hearts sink.

We were just two friends wearily making the most of our last night in Istanbul, settling for multiple rounds of Turkish tea over sparkling rosé. It rained all day again and there wasn’t much we could do besides be content with each other’s company. And that made all the difference.

Amidst a swirl of evil-eye trinkets and sleepy endearments mumbled during early-morning transits, we witnessed our friendship blossom.

P.S. Güney, your Turkish Beef Ravioli will have a special place in my heart!

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