our time in istanbul is drawing to a close, on monday we fly to the city of izmir and hire a car to explore the south west coast of turkey. its been a fantastic 2 weeks, staying in europe’s 2nd biggest city has been quite an adjustment from life in nhulunbuy, or even our few months in NZ.
at nearly 15m people, istanbul is not so much smaller in population than the whole of australia! despite that we have really enjoyed our time here, its a vibrant city filled with amazing buildings and constant reminders of a history that dates back to the beginning of civilisation. the greek gods are not far away, neither the sultans of the ottaman empire, helen of troy or the roman’s architecture.
we havent really done too much of the touristy stuff, its enough just to live and breathe in this amazing city, straddled over 2 continents, many religions, and several eons. we did a boat trip out to the princes islands – islands renowned for their peace and tranquility due to the total absence of cars on the islands. sadly we were not really impressed, i am sure residents of istanbul feel like its a tranquil getaway, but coming from arnhem land and piha it didnt feel that way to us! the fact that we accidently chose to go on a tuesday that was also a public holiday for government workers didnt help!
we also went to the istanbul aquarium with kai, it was ok, but to be honest its not in the class of say auckland or melbourne.
i think for us its been the wandering thru the back streets, discovering un described ancient ‘things’ and buildings, wonderful little restaurants and meeting the locals that has made it such an interesting city. we have barely scratched the surface in 2 weeks, only one trip to the asia side – where i suspect there is days of exploring to be had, very little time around galata and taksim and we have not seen the business center at all.
the public transport is outstanding for such a huge city, a great card system for fares, you only swipe on so you pay an average fare whether you go the whole distance or just one stop, it works or buses, trains, trams and ferries. we never seem to have to wait long for anything, there is a very good subway system only opened a couple of years ago and there are apps you can download for your phone to work out how to get anywhere at any time.
finally staying in this apartment has been perfect, its such a great location and a lovely old house made perfect with the balcony overlooking the city. serdar, has been the perfect host, he whips up an amazing breakfast every morning and has been very helpful and welcoming. we have also met 2 of his 5 sisters and a cousin! we took one of his sisters and his cousin out to dinner last week, with the two german guys who had been staying here in the house. stephan & michael were really good fun and so it was fantastic to be able to all get together for a big meal together. we got serdar to choose the restaruant and he took us to a very good seafood restaurant and we ate till we burst, washed down with the turkish firewater, raki, which is an aniseed based spirit.
here a few more images of the city we have loved so much,