- Middle East/North Africa
In junior high school, I learned the historical value of Constantinya (Constantinople), the city now known as Istanbul. Stories of kings and armies filled my head with pictures of fairytale knights fighting each other for the honor of a hopeless princess. I did not care much that the city was the imperial capital of the Roman Empire, and never had anything to do with the Brothers Grimm and their collection of German folktales. For me, it was a city of honor and dignity.
When I arrived there in February 2010, however, I wasn’t welcomed by a king’s entourage of flute-players, petal scatterers, honorable knights and archers. Instead, I was welcomed by cold early-morning winds accompanied by rain and the warm smell of freshly baked bread.
My days were spent sightseeing and secretly searching for my expected fantasia. Accustomed to Egypt's predictable weather, I would explore the back alleys of the glorious city in a heavy jacket while eating shawerma sandwiches (that traditionally come with fries) to find myself suddenly soaked wet by sudden rain showers.
I enjoyed the rain drops on my skin and felt as if I were playing like a child under the showers. The rain left me with the smell of wet trees. I could see reflections in small pools of water left by the rain in clean streets.
Three hours later, my body wet and shivering, my eyelashes couldn’t handle another dose of drops. All my romanticism now washed away, I stopped at a street vendor and bought myself an umbrella.