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Escape to Istanbul (Part 1)
A few weeks ago, a Covid grace period led to the lowest records of new cases and deaths since March, the world breath a premature sigh of relief, and I made my move. It was time to escape the confines of my dreary lockdown existence and visit a friend in Istanbul. At the time it felt like the stars had aligned, Turkey only weeks before, had dropped its visa requirements for UK citizens and flight prices were cheap, still suffering from a Covid hangover. I must stress, I would not recommend flying at this time, it was stressful when cases were going down, it must be a nightmare now.
Once in Istanbul, one thing became abundantly apparent, the whole Western obsession with face freedom doesn’t factor into everyday life there, so unless you are seated in a designated hospitality area, you wear a facemask, everywhere, without exception.
As a foreigner, it was immensely comforting if a little personally uncomfortable, to have a face mask on and know others were doing the same. Police were used to enforce the rules, which in Britain if the internet is to be believed, constitutes petty fascism. The mandatory nature of masks means that bars and restaurants offer them free to patrons and every table is stocked with its own bottle of hand sanitiser, from the lowliest chai house to the swankiest bar this is common practice. Next week I will discuss the city itself, which in my humble opinion is the greatest city on Earth.