Aug - Sep 2014 114

I have three words for Istanbul, if I will be asked to describe in a very simple manner, they are: vital, busy and attractive. These three words could also be used to other famous cities, but one thing I believe is that Istanbul absolutely could offer you a truly different experience to understand these three words. I have never seen any other cities could like Istanbul, so elegant but yet folk, impressive empire culture to crowed but vital bazaar atmosphere. Simply around any corner of historical town, you can encounter any combination of them. However, it is just not that unexpected, but rather so nature and comfort. When you are a bit disoriented by very tough and pervasive peddlers in Egyptian or grand bazaars, you can just give a simple glance to the beautiful and extraordinary ceiling and declaration of bazaar itself. I believe you will completely get your focus back: what I am doing in the bazaar! It is the place where you can go back to centuries to experience vital merchant history of this ancient city. However, I still left with a precious Turkish carpet (kilim) after a crazy bargain, because the peddler was too powerful and somehow even a bit “irresistible”. Anyway, I love my beautiful Kilim, and I actually admire the spirit of bazaar selling. Let it be, you can just enjoy everything. I still remember how the peddler used a bit imitating way to invite me over for a Turkish tea.

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Day and night, this city has a non-stop energy. Religionists are probably came from everywhere of the country, in order to prey in the holy mosques day by day. Mosques in Istanbul are not forbidden place for non-religionists. You can free to visit any of the most beautiful and ancient mosque in the town. You will be overawed by their peaceful and stately features. Outside the mosques, people are flooded in the squares. During the weekend, it is just impossible to pass through the crowd. If you are in the hurry to catch the time, please forget about it. In the other hand, if you are perfect relaxing, it would be a great idea to be flooded in the crowed: to see the fish market, night street food curter or busy bazaar. Around the Marmara seaside, you can feel and see the vital of this ancient and amazing city.

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As the perfect point to see the mixed western and Middle Eastern culture, the city has a sort of special mysterious and attractive style. It is also a metropolitan, undergoing huge modern development. You can experience the modern of this city: trendy young people are just like anywhere in the world; in Itiklal Caddesi street, you can meet office workers take lunch break, The formal and working life drag me from being tourist for a moment; besides amazing street food in historical center, you can food new style Turkish kitchen around Kakoy region. We were unexpected met a charming German-Turkish rock musician in a trendy restaurant for lunch. I was not sure whether it was a good idea to talk about serious topic. You can however see this city from its people, and makes it more attractive.

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For the night out, Nevizade Sokak is one of must be places. Not far from Nevizade, we had a bit different experience, when try to located booked suite in Tarlabasi region in the middle of night. The narrow streets are like spiderweb extending into the dark. I was a bit scared by homeless drug users, drunk persons and transgender business ladies for the first time. The white and beautiful suit is exactly in the darkness. In the amazing roof suit, we had full glass walls where we can see the shining far night view of part Istanbul, and where we can also see huge amount of abandoned nearby buildings. In the middle of the night, it makes you feel emptily scare, occasionally you can hear dog and drunk people fights. The next day, everything looks just so normal. One of dark scare houses I saw is actually small textile factory, and workers are busying with ironing during the day. One the roof floor of that house, a family lives with an 8-9 year old boy. In the other side of our suit, another scaring room during a day has an old mechanic man working. In the corner of the street, there is one b just washed clothes…everything looks just like a normal city day. I was somehow attracted by what I have seen during night and day. Tarlabasi is indeed a region having special story in Istanbul, where a bit different but hard working are used to live. From the roof balcony, I can feel the busy and vital energy of this soon might be demolished region, and I can see not far mosque and another side city. In the very end of Istanbul visit, I think probably is the people make this whole city so different, not only the past centuries history.

P.S all photos were taken by Lee during Istanbul visit, Sep 2014.

Other reading
Istanbul: There’s no place like it – Anthony Bourdain
Turkey session two – The master of roasted and baked food
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