On this trip I’ve spent the night in gasoline stations, bus maintenance yards, and public parks. I’ve camped by the side of the road and pitched my tent in muddy pear orchards after the farmers had gone home for the day.

This week I get to add an Ottoman imperial hideaway to that list.

In Istanbul I am staying with some good friends of mine, Bülent and Sema Özsoy. I have known Bülent and Sema since 2007, when they helped get the Istanbul Toastmasters club up and running.

Bülent and Sema live in Naile Sultan Korusu. “Korusu” roughly translates into “grove” or “preserve.” Naile Sultan was a daughter of Sultan Caliph Abdülmecid I. Naile Sultan lived in the second half of the 1800s, dying of tuberculosis at age 26.

Anyway, while she was alive she had the Korusu built. It has a great view of the Bosphorus, and even though it’s smack dab in the middle of the city, it’s about as peaceful as a nature reserve millions of miles from the nearest person. I love it!