This year was difficult one. After a lot piled up, I decided it was time for a break. I need to be away. Turkey came as an option after I had the chance to visit Bodrum and Marmaris for a few hours in a cruise during summer. Visa free and hassle free 🙂 I took only one lens with me this time; the Nikkor 50mm, f/1.8.
I booked my stay in Faros Hotel Taksim following the advice of a very good friend of mine and got my tickets from Turkish Airlines. Everything went smoothly in the airport. Upon arrival, transportation was waiting for pick-up and took me to the hotel. I checked-in, slept for a couple of hours and started walking down the streets of Istanbul until I had no more feet left. I visited everything I could with the short time I had, partied, ate, went shopping and enjoyed myself. But this time, I had no plan prepared ahead.
Taksim Square was the starting point.
The area around it will remain under construction for at least a year. According to locals, there are plans to build an underground tunnel to solve their traffic problems. (It’s terrible by the way)
Istiklal street was the best of them all. It’s busy, really busy all the time!
I even got caught up in a manifestation!
The street is full of shopping outlets, bazars, pubs, night clubs… you name it! The best places to eat there were “The House Café”, “Mado” and “Saray Muhallebicisi”.
Further down, I took the bridge above the Bosphorus river. The are lots of fishermen on it and restaurants below it. The underground passage was full of people and small shops. It’s like they don’t waste a meter of commercial space!
Then I went down to the Spice Bazar! Crowded crowded!
And further south where I visited the old city and several historical areas including the underground system next to Agia Sophia.
And I even “crashed” a wedding! 😛
There were several things worth noting during the trip. Like the fact that the first thing people offered when they knew I was from Lebanon: Shisha. In my opinion, that’s pretty sad. Turkey has a non-smoking law; which means that I enjoyed a smoke-free meal and party (I haven’t seen anyone smoking indoors. The fine for doing so is TL 69). Everybody smokes outside. Also, I noticed that people have a weird connection with stray animals. There is dry food and water outside several shops. The animals are not afraid of humans and they all seem healthy.
Public transportation was amazing. On time. I was blown away by the cleanliness, the silence and how decent they were. The funny part was when I took the train. Check how ridiculously small the “jeton” that gives access is:
People were helpful whenever I needed directions, inviting and always polite. Needless to say, that no all were honest. In some places where restaurants compete for clients, you see owners or employees calling you to offer you the best deal. BUT beware, most of the time, in these cases, the food is not fresh.
All in all I enjoyed my 4 days in Istanbul, I walked a LOT (over 6 hours a day) and came back with some street shots (They can be found on Flickr!) and good memories.
If you have been to Istanbul, what was the best thing you did?