It’s a little funny to write this post about my week in Istanbul when I know that I’ll be heading back there again the day after tomorrow. My (working) vacation had been planned ages ago and then I recently received an invitation to participate in a work meeting in Istanbul this coming Tuesday. So exactly one week after returning to Bremen, I’ll be off again to Istanbul! But before I do, let me share at least some thoughts and photos of the city.
Unfortunately a bit of my travel excitement and anticipation was dampened by the terrorist attacks that have hit Istanbul and other Turkish cities this year. And indeed another explosion took place near the Grand Bazaar two days after I returned to Bremen. My heart breaks from all the needless suffering and fear, but I am so glad to have the opportunity to visit such a vibrant and energetic city!
Friends and I stayed in the Alibeyköy neighborhood, which is about 20-25 minutes north of the center. With 15+ million people, the city is enormous and I felt like we expended enormous amounts of energy moving from one place to another. Istanbul has a subway system, but it wasn’t anywhere near our neighborhood, so we were dependent upon buses, which are prone to getting stuck in never ending traffic. Instead of stressing about it, we just went with the flow and didn’t hold ourselves to too strict of a sightseeing schedule.
Armed with guidebooks, cameras, and bottled water, we more or less just wandered the city. I loved walking through Taksim and Galata (modern day Karaköy) with no specific goal in mind. The architecture and dramatic contrasts between modern and medieval, Western and Eastern, fascinated me to no end. We walked over the Galata Bridge during the golden hour and climbed the hilly streets up to the Grand Bazaar — built in the 15th century, it’s one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, housing over 4000 shops in a maze of intersecting passages. Normally huge crowds in tight spaces aren’t my favorite thing, so I was happy to see that we reached the Grand Bazaar near closing time. This let us visit without the thronging masses.
Another evening we took a ferry from Kabatas to Kadiköy on the Asian side of the city (Istanbul is divided between the European and Asian continents!). And on Saturday we took a day trip to Heybeliada island (which deserves its own separate blog post). Like any other big city, Istanbul can be an exhausting assault on the senses, so my favorite moments were sitting on the balcony of our Airbnb apartment in the evening, listening to the calls to prayer echoing from the surrounding mosques.
Ok, so that’s enough words for now. How about some photos?
Beautiful, isn’t it? For a few more photos, you can check out my Flickr album — and get a sneak peek of our day trip to Heybeliada, if you can’t wait for my next post!
Have you been to Istanbul? What are your favorite memories of the city? If you haven’t, is Istanbul on your travel wish list?