Entry Info

2nd (Sat)
Oct 2010

[day138] My Life in Istanbul

My Life in IstanbulFor us, who had journeyed up North from Egypt, Istanbul is no longer a city in the Middle East. Well paved roads, modern buildings and young girls exposing their bare skins. After entering Turkey, getting alcoholic beverages became much easier as well. Many restaurants are fully licensed and there are so many bars and liquor shops everywhere. What's more, I found a funny poster on the wall of a bar at Istanbul. (http://twitpic.com/1nrake) Although I hardly found any restaurants serving pork, this city was very different from the countries being under strict Muslim rules.

My Life in IstanbulOn the other hand, people who travelled from Europe always insisted Istanbul is no longer a city in Europe. Pillars of huge mosques' spires, people smoking water pipes and playing board games at open air cafes, markets, stalls, distinctive foods like Kebab. Their facial features are also bit different from the ones of European. Speaking so, which part does Istanbul belong? I would suggest Istanbul is Istanbul; this city deserves to be the only one not belonging to anywhere.

As I stayed 2 weeks, I had enough time to walk around quite a few places. Not too being enthusiastic about tourism, I just strolled around the local streets and occasionally photographed some interesting subjects. Not gripping myself as a tourist, I liked the calm and relaxing life as if I were a local. Window shopping and watching a soccer game at a sports bar were fine for me.

My Life in IstanbulMy favourite spot in Istanbul was Galata Bridge which connects the down town and the old historic area. When I visited there at dusk, I could see many seagulls hovering on the wind with the gradient background of orange to indigo and it somehow looked exquisitely melancholic. What's more, the sun set over the mosque across the ocean. Also it was a good idea to have dinner at a restaurant under the bridge, observing the nightscape reflecting on the surface of the Golden Horn. Although the restaurants there are bit pricier than the ones in the other areas, you can actually find some reasonable places if you carefully check the menu.

My Life in IstanbulWell, I actually mentioned this before; among Japanese people, Turkish food is regarded as one of the most phenomenal foods of the world and I suppose it's true. In fact the food in Gyoreme was so tasty. Besides the traditional Turkish food, Istanbul has a rich selection of seafood as the city has a big harbour and I was elated at eating juicy grilled fish when we had a farewell dinner with Shin and Tomoko. It was positively surprising that I could eat such delicious grilled fish outside Japan though my budget didn't allow me to eat it every day as seafood was a rather more expensive food than the ordinary foods like Kebabs. If I'd been the richest person, I could've tried lobsters, oysters and other gorgeous menus too. Maybe next time.

My Life in IstanbulWhat's more, I must mention about the freshly baked Turkish breads. Most restaurants gave us the breads free when we ordered one dish at least and the breads were absolutely delicious. No exception here. All of them were soft but springy. After Turkey, I have travelled to a lot of countries which claim to have delicious breads but for my preference, Turkish bread is the absolute best. A bowl of salad with dipping sauce was my typical healthy choice. The bread with the dipping sauce went very well with the local beer.

In terms of the attraction in Turkey, the Hamam(Turkish bath) should be the top. After being impressed with it at Damascus, I tried it on every occasion at Hama and Gyoreme and for the memorial last, I decided to go to the local traditional one with Shin. Lying on the steam heated marble, we found the beads of sweats broke out with the weariness of the trip from whole our body. What's more, the most notable treatment here was the peeling. A hairy muscular Turkish guy intensely scrubbed our body and made us moan deeply. Although it appears so weird in writing, this massage was so painful yet energising. An astonishing amount of dirt peeled off from my body and the texture of the skin became as smooth as a baby's bottom.

My Life in IstanbulBesides, I have to emphasize this; we were in Turkey where we can drink alcohol. Although the Hamam didn't have any alcoholic beverages as it's a kind of traditional facility, we firmly resisted the temptation for the soft drinks and set out on the journey seeking for golden ale. After all, drinking a Turkish national brand, Efes Draft in the afternoon was so delightful.

Anyhow, such a comfortable city Istanbul was! The prices were not too expensive. People were very kind. The internet connection was just fine. Even though the shop keepers hustled sometimes, they are not as annoying as the guys in Egypt. Therefore, I could get away from it all on the last destination of the Middle East. Actually, the next destination is still in the Middle East but it's a totally different world. Finally, I was going to Israel.

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05:30 3rd Oct 2010


Geoff said:

It was a pleasure and surprise to meet you in Istanbul. I hope you enjoyed it there, although you seemed a little under the weather all the time. I apologize for being an early-rising roommate too!

07:00 3rd Oct 2010


Jenny said:

Whenever, I click on your links from the RSS feed it brings me to your homepage… just FYI.

Awesome seeing how your experiencing the Middle East… it makes me really want to visit there. That sunset photo is BEAUTIFUL! Keep writing!

08:54 4th Oct 2010


satoshi said:

It was my pleasure to meet you there too. At that time I was suffering with a private problem but talking with you eased my feeling. Don’t need the apology. I appreciate it indeed.

Thanks for the problem report. I fixed it and it should be fine from the next time.
The Middle East was so fascinating, totally different from our usual world. You MUST go there as a RTW traveller.

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