Frantic Pace of Istanbul Turkey


New Taksim Mosque – Daily Sabah

Another frantic day in Istanbul buzzed by and left me in the dust!  I have a few favorite cafés, where I can hide out, when things are too much. I’m 100% not complaining, as I love Istanbul and find it endlessly fascinating, but sometimes it’s hard to keep up with the fast pace – thought I had lots of energy – ha!

Backstreet Graffiti

Today, I walked Beyoğlu and Taksim, concentrating on less-traveled sidestreets, where there’s little foot traffic but potential for drama at every turn. Massive pedestrian traffic on the main streets is reminiscent of Asian cities like Phnom Penh, Saigon, and Mumbai – where, if you stop for too long, you’re swept away!

Aerial View of Taksim Mosque – daily sabah.com

I passed the huge new Taksim Square Mosque. Recently completed and opened to the public, its approval and construction took over 70 years – quite a story.

Galata Tower Beyoğlu

I changed course and walked near Galata Tower in Beyoğlu’s Galata district. The tower is a famous Istanbul icon. It’s always a busy area, with young Turkish tourists intent on snapping selfies with the tower in the background. Interesting shops spread out along steep cobblestone streets sell music instruments, art, Turkish linens, and locally-made clothing

Galatasaray Hamam – istanbeautiful.com

Galatasaray Hammam is just off Istiklal Street. Currently, the historical hammam is closed because of covid, but I hope it reopens while I’m here. It was built by Sultan II in 1481.

My Next Hammam?

After several hours of walking, I wimped out and decided to give my tired feet a treat and get a pedicure at Luxus Istiklal. I used Google translate to communicate, and it worked well. There are expensive apps that translate and even speak for you, but doubt they’re that much better.

Luxus Galata – luxushairgroup.com

My iPhone is definitely a mother, best friend, guru, and babysitter, all in one compact package that can be turned off easily! Love the way it even tells you to be careful and when it’s not a good idea to use trams or ferries, because it’s a busy time. When I’ve misplaced it and briefly think it’s lost, I panic. Travel without a smartphone is unthinkable.

Taksim Backstreet Shop

My brain is rejecting Turkish pronunciations, and after butchering so many words – evidenced by looks of disbelief on the faces of the people spoken to – I gave it up. My manicurist at the salon, Nazihe, went out of her way to make the pedicure and foot massage wonderful. She had trouble wrapping her head around “Sue” as a given name, but was very gracious about it. I’m thinking about changing my name to “Safiye” while in Istanbul.

New Hair Color Idea?

People who live here must sense the trauma Istanbul causes acclimating tourists. Massive crowds of Turkish people on the streets are daunting, but when you interact with them one on one, they’re incredibly sweet and focused on what’s happening at that moment. A woman in the salon was having her hair dyed bright purple, and I couldn’t help but stare. The stylist saw me looking and winked, maybe thinking I’m his next customer…

Chandelier Caffe Nero

I sometimes chat with an English-speaking waiter at a favorite outdoor café near the Istiklal tram station. He told me that most employees there don’t last more than a year, because the street noise and hectic environment become too much to bear. He smiled and admitted enjoying the relative peace and quiet that covid has brought the city for a few months. Another fancier more westernized escape place is Caffé Nero, where you can go incognito, lounge in a luxurious chair, and get the best chai latte in the world! The chandeliers and lighting fixtures are exquisite.

Taksim Square

I’ve traveled Turkey several times and in Istanbul am glad not to experience the discriminatory glances you can get in more rural areas, as a woman alone in a café. As is often the case in large cities, Istanbul is forever accepting and forgiving.

Caffe Nero – Gida Sanayim

The multitude of stray street cats never stop breaking my heart, but who knows the answer. They’re treated well and fed by many. A mobile spay / neuter clinic would have their work cut out for them, and who knows what other diseases or problems the cats may have. Haven’t taken many photos, because it’s tough finding space to stop, think the photo out, and then snap it. Sidestreets are easier. Another heartbreaker is young Turkish mothers singing or playing a musical instrument, while their scrawny children circulate the crowd collecting money.

Tomorrow, I plan to branch out a bit and take a ferry to another area – not sure where yet, but will look for some out-of-the-way gems, maybe a neighborhood in Kadıköy? The weather has been heavenly! The Bosphorus islands get busy in the summer with people escaping the city, so my guess is a weekday visit is best! This blog post has turned into a rambling digression. It was that kind of day!

Sleeping Street Cat

More later…

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