One of the greatest thrills I get out of traveling is the chance to finally see all of the cities, monuments, and attractions that I only heard about on TV or saw in textbook pictures. From Big Ben in London to the Louvre in Paris or the Parthenon in Athens, I’ve experienced the feeling dozens of times before, but there is one building in particular that stands out in my mind as the quintessential monument that I felt would forever remain just a picture - the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. At first glance, it may seem a bit strange that out of all the monuments in the world, this Byzantine church, turned mosque, turned museum holds the number one spot in my mind, but it's all the result of an unexpected class I took years ago back in high school.
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Since this blog’s inception, I've made it a point to write every entry from my perspective at the time when the events/adventures occurred. Even though these entries are now many, many months behind their respective dates, I always try to stay true to the moment even it means stating things I know do not occur in the future. Initially, this long turnaround rate was a severe thorn in my side, but I’ve come to appreciate the delay in publishing my stories to the public domain as it gives me the chance to personally relive the tales as well edit for content or length. Now that I’ve finally reached my trip to Dublin though, I find myself in a bit of a quandary and feel it necessary to break from tradition.
If you’ve followed my blog even haphazardly over the last few months, you know that I spent a semester abroad in college in Milan, Italy on exchange at Bocconi University. I’ve made reference to this six-month period of my life more times than I can count and will continue to do so for one very important reason - it was the first time I ever stepped foot outside the US. It was a monumental moment in my life, and my experiences during that semester still influence my decisions and outlook in life to this day. In fact, one of underlying reasons why I left my life in NYC to travel the world is directly linked to my time in Milan all those years ago.
Today I sit overlooking the Bosphorus Strait from a rooftop patio in Istanbul. I arrived over three weeks ago and this is literally the fifth day of sunshine I’ve encountered. The preceding days were cloudy, rainy, and cold with only a handful of moments where the sun managed to break through the thick blanket of ominous clouds. The weather isn't quite what I was hoping for, but then again, it is the beginning of December. All things considered, I can't really complain since I’m sitting outside in shorts, flip-flops, and t-shirt. As surprising as the weather may be, today marks a far more important milestone - the sixth month anniversary of my departure from the US.
It’s that time of year again, I have successfully managed to orbit the sun without perishing and I am yet another year older. Customarily this event would call for a night filled with copious amounts of alcohol and the mindless squandering of a small fortune, but this year the glorious 7/11 holds a special meaning. I will cross the quarter-of-a-century milestone and celebrate the one-month anniversary of traveling in the magnificent city of Marseille.