Anthony Bourdain in Istanbul: Beautiful, sprawling, troubled

"Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown" airs at 9 p.m. ET/PT Sundays on CNN. Follow the show on Twitter and Facebook.

(CNN)Istanbul: It's a sprawling, beautiful city, still, in spite of the unrestrained construction where Europe and Asia meet. There's no place like it -- and for a time, until very recently, it looked like the future.

We arrived in Istanbul at a hopeful time. The election results were in and power was shifting away, it appeared, from then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP.
So, our show is filled with cautiously hopeful people.
Subsequent events have failed to deliver on their optimism.
    'Istanbul looks a little different than last time'
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    Turkey is hardly the only nation I can think of where fear, xenophobia and ethnic hatred are vote-getters. There's plenty of that around. More and more these days, particularly in times of uncertainty, people seem to look to a "man on a horse" to solve their problems -- ANY man, it appears sometimes.
    This week's episode captures a particular moment in time in a beautiful yet troubled country, where it looked for a while like anything was possible.
    Now, I'm not so sure.
    But it's a place well worth visiting, to see for yourself, to meet the people, to eat the (terrific) food, to take in the stunning architecture and scenery.
    Don't let my gloom and pessimism and general misanthropy stop you.