In the conversation, I say that Istanbul is the capital of Turkey. This is wrong! Actually, Ankara is the capital. I am sorry for forgetting 😅
Welcome to Easy Stories in English, the podcast that will take your English from OK to Good, and from Good to Great.
I am Ariel Goodbody, your host for this show. Today’s story is for beginners. The name of the story is Towards the City. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/City. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/City. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
Today the order of the episode will be a bit different. Normally, I talk a bit first and then we have the story, but now, for beginner stories, the story will be first and then after the story I will talk about who wrote it and about my life.
Basically, someone told me that in the earlier beginner episodes, the conversation is sometimes too difficult. It’s actually really hard to talk about some topics with very simple language, so to make sure that you can understand and that you don’t get bored, I will put the conversation at the end. So if you find the conversation hard to understand, you can just stop listening after the story.
This will only be for the beginner level, and I will see how it goes. Let me know what you think. Go and leave a comment at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/City. Maybe you think this new order is better for all the episodes. Please let me know what you think.
OK, I’ll just explain some words that are in today’s story.
Towards means in the direction of. So maybe you are walking and you see a building far away, and you walk towards it. When you get there, you have walked to it.
Land is the thing below you. So when you walk outside, you are walking on the land. You are not on the sea or in the air. Plants and trees grow on the land. Land can also mean country. For example, England is a land.
Respect is when you think someone is really good. For example, teachers usually want children to respect them. They want the children to be good in class and look up to the teachers. Parents also want respect from their children. You might respect someone because they are very talented, or because they are a good person, or just because they are very strong.
Someone who is blind cannot see. Some people are blind from birth, and never see the world. Some people become blind because of an accident or disease. Some people are partially blind, and some people are fully blind. Blind people usually wear black glasses to show that they are blind, and some use sticks to walk around. You can also be colourblind, which is when you can’t see certain colours.
When you are confused, you are trying to understand something difficult but you cannot. You feel very stupid, and you don’t know why. Maybe you are confused because someone is speaking English very fast to you, or maybe you are confused because you are studying a hard subject, like physics.
A strait is a thin piece of water between two large pieces of water. So you basically have two lakes, and a thin bit of water connecting them, and that is the strait.
A thief, and the plural is thieves, is a person who steals. They might steal bread, money or computers. Aladdin is a famous thief from fairy tales.
Drunk means you have drunk alcohol, like beer or wine, and you feel strange. Actually, most people like getting drunk. In the UK, beer and cider, which is made with apples, are popular types of alcohol to get drunk. British people, mostly, like getting drunk very much. Personally, I drink very rarely, because I don’t like how you feel afterwards.
Hungover is how you feel after you get very drunk. So the day after you drink a lot of alcohol, you have a hangover; you are hungover. Basically, you are still a bit drunk, and you can have a headache, dry mouth, a stomach ache and so on. There are many ways people try to “cure” a hangover, for example by eating greasy food. But really, you just have to go through feeling horrible for a day or two.
Hopeless means you have lost all hope. You might feel hopeless because you failed an exam, or because a family member died. Hopeless can also mean you are really bad at doing something. For example, I am hopeless at sports.
If you enjoy the podcast and want more, you can support us on Patreon. For just $2 a month you can get exercises with each episode, and for $5 you get an extra story every month. You can support us at Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. That’s Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish.
A big thank-you to our new patron Jean Santos. Thank you so much, Jean. Your support really means a lot to us.
OK, so listen and enjoy!
Towards the City
Once upon a time, in Ancient Greece, there was a man called Byzas. Byzas was the son of Nisos, the King of Megara, a city in Greece.
‘My son,’ said King Nisos one day. ‘It is time for you to go out and make your way in the world. Find your own land and build a city there.’
‘I will make you happy, father,’ said Byzas.
So Byzas went out with his men and looked for land. But wherever they looked, there were problems. In the first place, there were thieves, men who stole from travellers. In the next place, there was bad weather: baking sun and ice-cold rain; that meant they could not plant food. In the third place, there were monsters that ate children alive.
‘I need help!’ said Byzas. ‘We have travelled for months and months, and we have found no place to build a city.’
So Byzas travelled to Delphi. There, there was the Oracle of Apollo. The Oracle of Apollo was a woman who spoke with the god Apollo and saw the future. She gave advice to men from all over Greece, and her advice was always good. But if you did not follow her advice well, or if you did not respect the gods, you could end up worse than before. Still, Byzas had to go, because he had no other ideas.
‘Oh, great Oracle of Apollo! I have come all the way from Megara to speak to you. My father, King Nisos, has told me to go out and build a city. But wherever I go, there are thieves, bad weather and monsters. Please tell me, where should I go to build my city?’
The Oracle closed her eyes and said nothing for several minutes. Byzas worried that he had said something wrong. But finally, she opened her eyes and spoke.
‘I have asked Apollo what to do. The message is clear: you will build your city on the land opposite to the Land of the Blind.’
Byzas left Delphi confused. He did not understand the Oracle’s message. ‘The Land of the Blind’? What did it mean? He asked his men, and they gave him many ideas. One said that it might mean window blinds, a kind of curtain. But that was too easy. Another said that it might mean a foreign land. But why would Apollo want Byzas to build his city in a foreign land?
For months, Byzas and his men travelled around, looking for the Land of the Blind. Everywhere they went, they asked people about it, but nobody knew where it could be.
One day, they came to the Bosporus, a strait. They took their ship to Chalcedon, a city on one side of the strait, and rested there. It was a horrible place. The streets were dirty and full of thieves and drunk people. That night, Byzas drank and drank and drank. He felt hopeless, because he had no idea where the Land of the Blind was. He could not go home to his father empty-handed, and he did not know what to do.
The next day, feeling hungover and sad, he walked up a big hill on the side of the city. From the top of the hill, he could look out over all the houses and across the strait to the other side.
Byzas gasped. ‘How can it be?’
On the other side of the strait, opposite Chalcedon, was a magical land. The land was green, with many beautiful flowers and trees holding beautiful fruit. Wild sheep, pigs, cows and horses walked around, fat and healthy. There were rivers and lakes with beautiful clear water.
‘How can these people live in Chalcedon, when such a magical land sits opposite them? They must be blind!’
Suddenly, Byzas remembered the words of the Oracle of Apollo: You will build your city on the land opposite to the Land of the Blind.
Byzas started laughing. ‘I’ve found it! I’ve finally found it!’
He ran down the hill and shouted to his men, ‘Get on the ship! We’re crossing the strait.’
The men, confused, did what he said. When they arrived at the magical land they laughed and cheered.
There, Byzas built the city of Byzantium. It was a place of riches and magic. Over the years, the city grew in size and importance. Today, it is called Istanbul, which means towards the city, because men from all around the world come there still.
So today’s story was written and sent in by a listener. The person who wrote the story is Ferhat Uzuner. So, thank you so much again, Ferhat. I really liked this story.
And remember, if you have a story and you want to put the story on the podcast, you can email me. Send me your story at Ariel@EasyStoriesInEnglish.com. I would love to read it.
Actually, I already have a few stories from listeners, so it might take some time before I can put your story on the podcast. You might have to wait a few months before your story goes on the podcast. Just so you know.
So today’s story is from Ancient Greece. Greece is a country in Europe and Greece is a very famous country because, throughout history, Greece has given us many things. We have from Greece democracy, philosophy and lots of beautiful art. All of these things started in Ancient Greece.
Ancient Greece is also famous for the Greek gods. So the Greeks had many gods. The main god was Zeus. There is actually another story in the podcast from Ancient Greece. The story is called Arachne, the Spider Woman. You can listen to it at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/SpiderWoman. I really love that story. Actually, all of the stories from Ancient Greece are really interesting, so definitely go and listen to that episode if you have not listened to it before.
Of course, today, Istanbul is not in Greece, it is the capital city of Turkey. The old names of the city Byzantium and Constantinople. Istanbul is now a very big city. It actually has a population of 15 million. When I learned that so many people live in Istanbul, I was really surprised, because almost twice as many people live in Istanbul than in London, and London is such a big city. So Istanbul is really, really big. I have never gone to Istanbul, but I really want to and this story has helped me learn a bit about the history of the city.
Anyway, I also want to talk about the live stream. So on Saturday there was another live stream for Easy Stories in English. It was our second live stream, and it was really fun. I had a lot of fun. On the live stream, I talked about a videogame I am playing called Animal Crossing, and I showed some pictures from my game, and we wrote a really beautiful story together about a man who dreams of an island in a raindrop. I really recommend going and watching the stream on YouTube. Even if you didn’t come on Saturday, you can watch the replay, the video version, on YouTube.
I have decided to make the streams regular because it is really fun and I think, right now, we need something relaxing. So the streams will be every Saturday at 13:00 British Summer Time and the streams are on my YouTube channel, on the Easy Stories in English YouTube channel. I will put a link in the transcript of this episode to the YouTube channel at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/City.
And if you want to know when the stream is happening, you can join the email newsletter. Go to EasyStoriesInEnglish.com and type your details into the box. If you join the email newsletter, I will email you with useful advice on how to learn languages, and I will email you an hour before the Saturday streams starts, so that you can come along as well.
So, thank you for listening today. If you enjoyed the story, please consider supporting us on Patreon. Go to Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. That’s Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. For just a few dollars a month you can get extra episodes, exercises, and much more. Thank you for listening, and until next week. Bye!