Istanbul highlights

While J was back in the states for three weeks, I had the opportunity to visit a friend in Istanbul during the first week of February. This friend and I met while we were both in graduate school at Indiana University. She’s originally from Turkish Cyprus, and she moved to Istanbul this fall to complete a PhD program in Anthropology. As luck would have it, her winter break lasted from early January to mid-February, so it was the perfect time visit.

Istanbul is such an incredible city! I felt really fortunate to be staying with a friend who could help me to get a feel for what it’s like to live while still showing me the most popular tourist destinations. After reflecting on my reactions and impressions of that 15-million strong city, I honestly think that my time in Adana caused me to have quite a different reaction than most visitors from the U.S. or Western Europe. I kept noticing how *European* it seemed–from the architecture to the cobbled streets and sidewalks to the weather and to the bakeries and coffee shops. We diligently visited the Spice Bazaar and the Grand Bazaar and the Sultanahmet district. While the neverending shops and beauty of the Hagia Sophia and Sultan Ahmet mosque certainly impressed me, the things that I ogled most included the quirky Alice-in-Wonderland look of tucked-away “French Street,” the liveliness of the Taksim district, the fish restaurants on Nevizade street, the ferries on the Bosphorous, the shops (and the shoes!), the incredible night-time city views and just the grand expanse of it all.

J and I definitely plan to go back together. I can’t wait for him to see a whole other side of Turkey! In the meantime, here are a few pictures to tide all of us over until our next visit…

one end of Istiklal street (or, Istiklal caddesi, I should say). It’s a pedestrianized street at the center of the Taksim district. It’s full of restaurants, shops, bars, and people from morning until the wee hours.
Nevizade Street. Off of Istiklal Street, it’s full of traditional fish restaurants where people settle in for a long and social meal. When my friend and I ate at one, we didn’t even make it beyond the second round of appetizers. *Next* time, we’ll actually get to the fish!
We woke up to a light dusting of snow one morning.
The inside view of just one of the several sets of gates to Dolmabace palace, one of a handful of Ottoman palaces scattered throughout the city. This was one of the most ornate, richly decorated homes (if you can even call it that) that I have *ever* seen. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, unfortunately.
Ortakoy mosque. Another adorable little neighborhood of winding streets and narrow buildings. Later on in the evenings the crowds apparently descend for it’s bars and nightlife.
Another view up one of Ortakoy’s streets.

That’s all for now. More pictures to come in upcoming posts!


One thought on “Istanbul highlights

  1. I’m glad you had fun and are fortunate to have a friend there. You certainly are experiencing a lot.
    Stay safe. Miss you two 🙂

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