we didn’t find any roast turkey in turkey - Istanbul, Turkey - 20 July 2012 

If I could only write about one aspect of my time in Turkey, it would be on the friendliness of the people. In all honesty, the Turks are the friendliest I have ever experienced, beating - by a length and a bit - the Cambodians or Thais. Without fail, they will strike up a conversation on the bus or on the street corner if you look lost, or merely unengaged. Whilst in India, or other unnamed asian states, I’ve always had a heightened sense of reservation or apprehension, the need for such a closed facade is dissipated in Turkey - only common sense required.

R (Australia) and I headed back to Istanbul from Gallipoli for the night before our early morning flights. We took the opportunity to stay in the modern area of Istanbul (Taksim Square) as opposed to the Old Town (Sulthanamet). This decision was a good one, and it reversed our previous fortunes of failing to find decent food in Istanbul. Travel tip - getting out of the tourist trap that is Sulthanamet is the key - and even if one wants to visit the sights in Sulthanamet, it is only a short tram ride away.

S (Turkey), who I met in Switzerland earlier in the year, had sent me through a list of ‘to-do’ places in Istanbul off the beaten track. Unfortunately, we couldn’t catch up with S because she was out of Istanbul for the summer, but we did try one of her recommendations - Kafe Ara - run by famed Turkish photographer Ara Guler. A really cool, hip, place with large Guler images on the wall - and great food for next to nothing!

The area east of Taksim Square has a real modern, cosmopolitan European vibe - with funky cafes, and fresh ideas.

After 10 days, and too many hours on the bus, that’s it for this Turkish jaunt. I’m off to Athens today for some more ruins and island hopping!

Why straddle two cultures, when you can ride a fusion horse? - Istanbul, Turkey - 11 - 14 July 2012

It is the city that divides the East and West.  The span of continents. It is the clash of cultures. But, these aren’t new observations. And, true to style, pick up any journalism on Istanbul and you will get some version of this rhetoric - a Lonely Planet devotes much more space than deserved to extended metaphors about the city’s location on the fence of Europe and Asia.  I could write a poem about this fence, this divide, this ‘bridge’. But, alas, I won’t. Not because it is not true to some extent, but because it really doesn’t reflect the fact that Istanbul has it’s own culture - influenced by the East and West - but particular to the place.  It is a melting pot, but out comes a unique product.

Istanbul. What’s the go? The city on the Bosphorous is beautiful.  It is modern, transport is efficient and its ocean setting is complemented by the calls to prayers and the stunning minarets piercing the sky line.

Cruising the Bosphorous. 

The architecture is fusion, but it is practical. It reminds me of asia - the hustle, the bustle - but is less dirty. It is a place where practicality takes importance over tradition (to an extent), but where the old is mixed with the new. Not only taking and adopting cultures of the East and West, but of the civilisations before; Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Christians and Islam. 

The people; incredibly friendly, chatty and welcoming. Always up for a chat about their country, their culture and life in general.

Instead of stray dogs, there are hoards of cats roaming the street.  And, unfortunately, we are yet to find the great Turkish food we have heard so much about - but maybe we just need to get out of Istanbul.
One of many tea times, looking so ‘A-for-artiste’ according to R.

Highlights obviously include the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia and the Grand Bazaar - the big things! But just the wandering through the windy streets, finding cool lookouts and drinking tea in funky locations. 

I’m travelling with R (Australia), a mate I met in Copenhagen, and whilst we’ve been doing some serious swagger here - we thought we’d test a little bit of the Turkish culture - and our indulgence for the finer, more feminine things in life, such as washing.


A Turkish bath was the result. It is, what it seems. A big hairy Turkish man scrubs you. Soapy goodness. I have never felt cleaner in my life. Top experience, and very much enjoyed.

Off to the south of Turkey now. Plenty more culture, some a bit older. And lots of tea time to come! Mmm. Turkish tea. 

And, a gif for good measure…

 

gif maker

Looking south from the Galata tower.

Istanbul, Turkey      (14 July 2012)

View from Galata bridge at Sunset

Istanbul, Turkey       (13 July 2012) 

It’s a doves’ life…

 Istanbul, Turkey        (12 July 2012)

Tea time

Istanbul, Turkey         (12 July 2012) 

Hagia Sofia

Istanbul, Turkey          (12 July 2012)

Welcome to Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey       (12 July 2012)