I recently spent several days getting extremely lost and eating many kebabs in Istanbul.
Istanbul can be an overwhelming city, so I thought I’d share a key travel tip for those of you planning a visit: be sure to choose a travel partner who looks like a famous actor who currently plays Süleyman the Magnificent on a popular Turkish soap opera.
(Süleyman the Magnificent, usually called Süleyman the Lawgiver in Turkey, was the 10th and longest-reigning leader of the Ottoman Empire, from 1520 to 1566. He’s what you’d call “a big hairy deal” in the annals of Ottoman history. Possibly the biggest and hairiest.)
Traveling with a Süleyman doppelganger might sound like a tall order, but I figure if I can swing it, anyone can. Here is Halit Ergneç, famous for playing Süleyman on “The Magnificent Years”:
Here is my husband, the non-Sultan*:
Along with many stares, calls, and whistles, he was frequently stopped on the street by Turks who wanted their photo taken with the Sultan, and who still wanted one even once his complete inability to comprehend any Turkish immediately gave the game away.
(Exceptions: the words “kebab” and “baklava,” but those never came up in their remarks)
Anyway, the point is that I highly recommend traveling through Istanbul with a Süleyman lookalike, if only because it will be the source of endless amusement to you as the Sultan’s traveling partner.
*If you were hoping for a sappy comment about how he’s not the Sultan but he’s still magnificent in my eyes, consider that comment made.