I’ve been in Istanbul for over a week, and am beginning to adjust. It’s a huge, fast-moving city (15.5 million) with many districts and neighborhoods to explore. I’ve barely grazed the surface, but am making progress. Today, I visited Kadıköy, across the Bosphorus Strait on the Asian side.
Google Maps Failure
Google Maps threw me to the wolves on a complicated trip to Kadıköy via Istanbul’s high-speed-Metro, Metrobuses, and jitneys, with confusing walks between connections. Following Google’s detailed, step-by-step instructions, it took 1.5 hours to get there! Kadıköy is on the water, so a ferry from Karakoy (near my apartment) drops you off in front of the city center, and it’s a low-stress, pleasant way to travel. I don’t understand why Google Maps doesn’t include ferries in its options for maneuvering Istanbul. I was brain dead (duh) not to realize a ferry was the best way to get from Taksim to Kadıköy, and learned from the mistake!
Since Istanbul auto and motorcycle traffic is often a bumper-to-bumper nightmare, traveling to Kadıköy by taxi or car could take 2 hours or more. The trip via Karakoy ferry lasts 20 minutes!
More HES Code Drama
The useful part of my boondoggle (?) turned out to be passing a Metro test using the IstanbulKart. During the process, I found and hopefully corrected an HES code glitch. When I started out on the M2 Metro from Şişhane Station in Beyoğlu, the card swipe worked. When switching to Söğütlüçeşme Metrobus, the card was rejected, and I was told to get an HES code – hummm, didn’t I already do that?
It never pays to get irritated about this kind of thing in a foreign country, but mentally, I was dreading having to repeat the entire HES code debacle. I walked about a half a mile to the closest HES station and waited in line to explain my situation. The person in charge seemed stressed and spoke zero English.
I presented my HES QR code. The agent scanned it, and said it was bogus. Thankfully, the “official” text with the code number was still on my phone, so I handed it to the agent who looked at it and frowned. After making a few entries on her laptop, she used a translation app to tell me everything was OK in the system now, and I could use my IstanbulKart. When I asked why the card worked at one point, but not another, she brushed me away.
I have no idea what happened – maybe two different transportation companies with different computerized systems? Hopefully, the same issue won’t come up each time I use the card. HES codes are part of a system to combat the spread of covid. You can’t access Istanbul public transportation without first obtaining an HES code and linking it to your IstanbulKart.
Kadıköy is on the Asian, Anatolian side of Istanbul, on the northern shore of the Sea of Marmara. It faces the center of the European side, and as one of Istanbul’s oldest settlements, is a cultural center considered the “most prominent neighbourhood in the district”. It once was part of neighboring Üsküdar.
Relics from 5500 to 3500 BC Anatolia (Chalcolithic Period) were discovered in Kadıköy, “indicating settlement there since prehistoric times”. Remains of a Phoenician port were found, as was evidence of a 685 BC Greek settlement. Persians, Bithynians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, and Crusaders occupied the area. Ottomans took control in 1353, a century before Constantinople.
“Kadıköy Osman Aga Mosque is the oldest mosque in İstanbul, built almost a century before the conquest of Constantinople in 1453.”
Central Kadıköy is a transportation hub for commuters crossing the Bosphorus between Asian and European sides. I learned firsthand why ferries are the preferred and primary form of transport to Kadıköy. The main market is near the ferry quay.
Streetart, Fresh Fish, Food Markets
Kadıköy is a popular location for vendors, streetart, food markets, bookshops, craft shops, and shopping malls. At the top of the shopping district, there’s an intersection called Altıyol (six ways) with a famous statue of a bull. A road leads to Kadıköy civic center buildings and a huge street market – Salı Pazarı (Tuesday Market). Working-class residential districts, Hasanpaşa and Fikirtepe, are located near the civic center.
Nightlife, Turkish Delight, Toy Museum
Kadıköy’s narrow streets are filled with popular cafés, bars, restaurants, and cinemas. Süreyya Opera House is a recent redevelopment of an historic movie theatre. Kadıköy businesses include the oldest recorded maker of Turkish delight, Hacı Bekir, as well as pastry and chocolatier Baylan. Kadıköy streets seemed about half or less as busy as Taksim and Beyoğlu.
Moda and Coastal Areas
There are expensive shops and upmarket residential areas along the coast outside Kadıköy. Moda and Fenerbahçe have seaside restaurants, cafés, and bars. There’s a tram to Moda and a coastal walking path from Kadıköy.
Moda is on my list of areas to explore. It’s described as an “old, quiet, cosmopolitan neighbourhood that’s beginning to experience economic and aesthetic problems, with a lack of parking and run-down shops and buildings”. Moda residential area is “considered one of the more pleasant districts in Istanbul”. There are interesting churches, schools, and theatres, and the cafés, bars, and shops are frequented by tourists and “Istanbul’s creative class”. Now that I know the easy way to get there via ferry, I’ll return to continue exploring,
I’ve been keeping up with US news when possible :o( , but Aljazeera, RT, and BBC World are more informative! There’s so much going on in the world, other than our US drama. I have my own opinions but keep an open mind and have learned differing points of view from impressive journalists (new to me) like London’s Tariq Ali, whose geopolitical ideas are interesting.