Cirque du Soleil in Istanbul

Ülker Arena
Ülker Arena

Cirque du Soliel’s new show – Michael Jackson the Immortal World Tour – opened in Istanbul on March 15th for a three-day run. I saw the performance – a loving tribute to Michael Jackson’s life and music – Saturday night at Ülker Arena. In true Cirque du Soleil style the lighting and special effects were phenomenal and talented performers thrilled the audience. This is a link to a preview of the show – Not sure when the new show hits the US – so far it looks like performances are only scheduled in Asia and Europe.

Ulker Arena
Ülker Arena

The Istanbul audience loved the show but there were many vacant seats. It was the first Cirque du Soleil performance I’ve ever attended that wasn’t sold out. I remember their frequent appearances in San Francisco and saw them in Las Vegas and Portland. The tickets are expensive and that may be one reason for the poor turnout.

Ülker Arena is on the Asian side of Istanbul in a neighborhood called Ataşehir. From Sultanhamet I took the tram to Eminönü, then a ferry to Kadıköy, and finally a bus to Ataşehir. Since traffic was horrible on Saturday the bus took three times as long as the rest of the trip. However the traffic delays gave me a great opportunity to meet and talk to Turkish people.

Ataşehir Skyline

Ataşehir is known for luxury skyscraper condominiums inhabited by Istanbul residents with high incomes. It’s the hosting headquarters for many large corporations and is a world business and trading centre. Ataşehir is like no other neighborhood I’ve seen in Istanbul. The huge Ülker Arena is used for sports events and large performances.

Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson

On the bus ride I sat next to an older Turkish man who didn’t speak English but understood where I was going and told me when to get off the bus. His help was important since there were about 15+ stops all in Turkish! I also met a Turkish girl from Izmir on the bus, a devoted Michael Jackson fan, who wanted to move to Hollywood to become an actress – her parents must love that. She was very cute. At the performance I talked with a couple from Bodrum – Melis and Deniz – who invited me to visit them when I get to the Mediterranean coast.

Ülker Arena
Ülker Arena

During dinner after the show I met and chatted with a friendly restaurant owner who talked about life in Turkey and his business aspirations for opening Turkish restaurants in other countries. He was candid and had a great sense of humor.

Ataşehir at Night

Tomorrow I’m going on a day tour to Bursa which leaves at 6:30 am from Yenikapi Port on Istanbul’s Sea of Marmara side. It’s a two-hour ferry ride. Bursa is along the coast on the lower slopes of the Uludag Mountains in Turkey’s Anatolia region.

Bursa’s population is about 3 million and it’s known as “Green Bursa” because of the many gardens and parks there. It’s the heart of Turkey’s fruit growing region. I heard the ski resorts in the Uludag Mountains are still operating. Weather the last few days has been cold and rainy but tomorrow’s forecast calls for a warm clear day.

Istanbul Ferry
Istanbul Ferry

Maybe one of the guides will take a photo of me in Bursa – as proof that I’m really in Turkey! When you travel solo it’s difficult getting yourself in photos – I often forget about it and when I ask someone to take a photo it usually turns out poorly – unfocused and I look terrible. I’m not very good at taking selfies.

Ciao for now!

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