Urban Bug Disaster

The Bosphorus can be a total dream or a complete nightmare, depending on how you experience it. Every day hundreds of thousands cross it to go to work or travel, thousands sail under it carrying cargo or tourists..Every night, boats sail all around it showing avid diners the wonders of its shores, giving them an unequaled experience.
My family and I went through that same kind of unequaled and unforgettable experience.
It was my fathers birthday on Saturday and my mother had stumbled upon an offer from the ever so insta-famous website SehirFirsati.com who specialize in last minute offers for every city that they are based in. After making up her mind, she thought that it would be lovely to spend the night on one of those boats, accompanied by the lovely “Suzanne Kardes” – who’s voice and songs could melt the coldest of hearts and turn you into a total bundle of joy.

We immediately called the boat to make reservations and they told us that we didn’t need to bother ourselves with buying our tickets on the fantastic portal that is SehirFirsati, but that they would sell us said tickets directly from the boat, just to make our life easier.
My mother agreed and off we went to celebrate my fathers 66th birthday on the “Nis 2″ boat hosted by the Feraye company – as strongly recommended by Sehir Firsati.

Let me just say that living in Istanbul makes you ready for any kind of chaos that could be sent your way. It doesn’t matter how small or big the deed, if it involves chaos and you’re an Istanbulian, chances are you’re ready to tackle that son of a gun and pulverize it.
I wasn’t ready for this experience though..

After boarding the ship, and being greeted by a large group of people trying to get their ticket from two guys who were standing around a table at the front of the boat, we waited 20 minutes to be able to get our tickets and be seated. Another specification that I need to make before I forget is that my mother had especially requested not to be seated under or next to any speaker because she didn’t want us to suffer from temporary hearing loss.

I will let you guess where we were then seated.

Yes.

Right under them nasty speakers, the kind that would wake the dead and make them complain to the human rights commission. And amnesty international.

I kept my cool. I swear! When I asked to speak to the manager, I was as cool as an iced puppy. Cross my heart. After waiting 20 additional minutes for the manager and not seeing anyone coming our way I decided to go directly to the mountain myself.

I went back to the front desk equipped with the tickets that we were given and requested to speak to the manager. I was then shoved towards a lovely man who seemed to be either working the scene, or the PR manager. He then told me that he would deal with the situation immediately and he decided to seat us in the VIP section of the boat, which is situated right next to the band and artist. Sounded like a great plan! It was perfect! My parents would surely enjoy THAT!

That’s what I felt until I saw the table. Guess where it was situated? Next to a speaker.
At that point I had really given up on arguing with anyone and had decided to keep my cool even furthermore. The table had been used by other patrons who had decided that they wanted to eat under speakers so there were used plates and glasses and crumbs all over the table cloth. Mr PR person requested that the table be cleaned immediately by one of his minions. His staff was running left and right portraying the reaction a crowded group would have if an enraged bull was heading their way so they weren’t really ready to add some extra work to their load. We waited an extra 25 minutes before someone came anywhere close to our table to clean it from the waste and equip us with clean utensils. First they removed the dirty plates. Then they removed the dirty glasses approximately 10 minutes later. After a failed attempt at placing the new dishes of meze onto the dirty cloth, they had to remove that too, under my mothers watchful eye.

The Turkish starters weren’t all that bad. They looked terrible because they had obviously been waiting outside the fridge for a while but the taste was alright and we’re all still here, so no one died (that I know of).

After having made a brief stop on the Asian side the boat set off to greener pastures and started making its habitual trip around the Bosphorus. I’m assuming that Sehir Firsati sold a lot of tickets that night because it was relatively jam packed. (they sold the tickets for 55 instead of 110 TL)

While we were eating the meze, the live band started and soon after Suzanne Kardes came along. If it weren’t for her I don’t think the event would’ve been bearable at all. If you want to have a wonderful evening accompanied of Turkish songs and beautiful Turkish music, do not hesitate to check her website to glance over at her list of appearances (she’s soon to appear at a Kurucesme Arena concert.) You will not be disappointed!

The main course, which was fish, arrived approximately 1 hour after the band started playing. By then everyone was very intoxicated due to the heavy drinking of free alcohol and not a lot of attention was given to the main course which was either fish or red meat. Thankfully, I don’t drink alcohol so I was alert enough to see that the fish was dried when grilled and ended up being rather tasteless. It was all down hill from there on..The desert was four pieces of fruit thrown onto a huge plate (just to make them look very miserable) and to top it off, the boat ended up dropping us off one hour late to Arnavutkoy.

To sum it all up, do we like the “Nis II” events? God no. Will we ever join another one? Not unless I’m at gunpoint. Did Suzanne Kardes and her folkloric songs gain another fan? Indeed they did. Do I still like Sehir Firsati for proposing such a horrid experience? The jury is still out on that. My advice is to double and triple check the events you buy. Hopefully I’ll be changing my mind on them soon and we will be friends again.

Sehir Firsati Website: http://www.sehirfirsati.com/
The Feraye Boat by Urban Bug Facebook Group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=108781282496623&ref=share

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Istanbul Twestival

Here is the last press release from the Istanbul Twitter Festival Team “Istanbul Twestival”. Unfortunately I only have a Turkish version. Google translate perhaps my pretties? :) I am happy to report that there will also be a Twestival in Ankara and in Izmir, which I will hopefully be helping out with.

You should follow them on twitter and keep posted, they also might still need help so get on helping!

İstanbul Twestival Global 2010 / 25 Mart 2010
Twestival ile Twitter Kullanıcıları ‘Dünyayı Değiştirecek’ Dakikaları Kutlayacak
300’den Fazla Dünya Şehri Aynı Gün Twitter Partisi Düzenliyor
25 Mart 2010’da 24 saat boyunca İstanbul’un da arasında olduğu 250’den fazla dünya kenti, Twitter üzerinden birbirini tanımış gönüllü organizatörler eşliğinde Twestival’i kutlayacak. Twitter’ın dünya çapındaki her kullanıcısının, yerel ve global bağış toplamayı sağladığı bu organizasyon, internetin sosyal yaşamı iyileştirme gücünü de ortaya koyuyor.
Hareketin lideri Amanda Rose, bir röpörtajında ‘Bu hareketin dünya çapında bu kadar pozitif karşılanması bizleri çok mutlu etti. Bu tip sosyal sorumluluk aktiviteleri, sanal dünyada tanımadığımız insanlarla bir araya gelmek ve böylece yardıma muhtaç vakıflara bağış toplamak için çok faydalı oluyor. Twestival %100 gönüllüler tarafından yapılmakta ve tüm gelirleri seçilen vakfa aktarılmaktadır. Bu sayede binlerce hayat üzerinde pozitif bir etkimiz oluyor.’ dedi.

İlk Twestival Global sonucunda, Etiyopya, Hindistan ve Uganda’da toplam 55 su kuyusu açıldı ve 17.000 çocuğa ömür boyu içme suyu sağlandı. Bu yıl ikincisi düzenlenecek Twestival Global için yine tüm dünya kenetlenerek iyilik yarışında olacak.
Twestival, Londra, Paris,New York, San Francisco, Toronto, Vancouver, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Beijing, Sidney, Melbourne ve Lima gibi birçok cosmopolit kentte kutlanmakta. Detaylı bilgi için web adresi; www.twestival.com.
2009’da hem global hem de yerel olarak İstanbul’da da düzenlenen Twestival’lerde Charity Water ve TODEV (Türkiye Otistikleri Destekleme ve Eğitim Vakfı) desteklendi. Bu yıl hazırlıkları devam eden etkinlikte tüm dünyada olduğu gibi elde edilen gelirler, Madonna’nın da destekçisi olduğu Concern Worldwide vakfına bağışlanacak.

Dünya çapındaki bu büyük iyilik hareketi; ‘twiter üzerinden sosyal farkındalığı arttırma’ amacıyla 2010’da Concern Worldwide için bağış toplayacak. (www.concern-worldwide.org ve http://twitter.com/concern )
Istanbul Twestival Global 2010 faaliyetlerini ve gelişmeleri takip etmek için istanbul.twestival.com adresini ziyaret edebilir, twitter üzerinden de @IstanbulTWSTVL hesabını izleyebilirsiniz.
*Program akışındaki belirlenen gelişmeler: Anadolu Sağlık Merkezi, İndeks İletişim, Kurumsal Haberler, Saylam Residence, Showhow, İmece, Yeşim Mutlu, Teknobeyin, Virgin Radio, Cicice, Red Bull sponsorlukları ve Begum Salihoglu ile Anilive canlı defile performansı, Gece Grubu performansı, konuk sanatçılar ile söyleşi ve stand-up showları ve birçok değerli Dj katılımı olacaktır.
Twestival’in Anakara ve İzmir’de de kutlanması planlanıyor.

İstanbul Twestival Global 2010 Şehir Organizatörü
Duygu Saylam
www.twitter.com/istanbulTWSTVL
http://istanbul.twestival.com


Google has a funky new Istanbul logo

..but I’m not too thrilled about it. I’m going to assume that they created it for Istanbul 2010 but I don’t love it. Stroll on over to http://www.google.com.tr/ to check it out!

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Istanbul 2010

As you probably know Istanbul is the European Capital of Culture this year and today is the official launch of the “Istanbul 2010″ festivities. If you’re not too sure what it is all about, then have a stroll over to http://www.en.istanbul2010.org/index.htm

There will be fireworks and concerts within key points of the city as follows:

Events at Haliç Congress Center

Time: 17:30

Place: Haliç Congress Center

Program Flow
17:30 Opening Cocktail
18:30 Opening Remarks
19:00 Special 16 January Opening Show directed by Yekta Kara
“Istanbul Magic”
Invitation of the protocol and other guests to the pier
Pushing the button by Participant protocol members to launch the firework show
20:30 Closing

Events in Taksim Square

Time: 19:00

Place: Taksim Square

Announcer: Ziya Kürküt

Program Flow
19:30 Screening of the Balloon Theatre realized in Kadıköy and DJ performance
20:10 Live Screening of the firework show realized over the Golden Horn
20:30 The Fire Theatre
21:15 Tarkan Concert
22:20 Closing

Events in Kadıköy Square

Time: 19:00

Place: Kadıköy Seaside, İspark Parking Lot

Announcer: Volkan Severcan

Program Flow

19:00 Balloon Theatre

20:10 Live Screening of the firework show realized over the Golden Horn

20:20 Mor ve Ötesi Concert

21:20 Closing

Events in Pendik Square

Time: 19:00

Place: Pendik Seaside, İspark Parking lot

Announcer: Gülhan Şen

Program Flow

19:00 Screening of the Balloon Theatre realized in Kadıköy

20:10 Live Screening of the firework show realized over the Golden Horn

20:20 Kıraç Concert

21:20 Firework show and closing

Events in Sultanahmet Square

Time: 19:00

Place: Front of Hagia Sophia

Announcer: Hande Kazanova

Program Flow
19:00 Mehter Concert

19.45 DJ Performance
20:10 Live Screening of the firework show realized over the Golden Horn
20:20 Mercan Dede Concert
21:20 Firework show and closing

Events in Bağcılar Square

Time: 19:00

Place: Bağcılar Square

Announcer: Jess Molho

Program Flow

19:00 Screening of the Balloon Theatre realized in Kadıköy

20:10 Live Screening of the firework show realized over the Golden Horn

20.20 Zara Concer

21:20 Firework show and closing

Beylikdüzü Square Events

Time: 19:00

Place: Beylikdüzü Municipality Social Events Arena

Announcer: Asuman Dabak

Program Flow

19:00 Screening of the Balloon Theatre realized in Kadıköy

19:30 Şaman Dance Group’s Show

19.55 DJ Performance

20:10 Live Screening of the firework show realized over the Golden Horn

20.20 Nil Karaibrahimgil Concert

21:20 Firework show and closing

And for those who cannot make it..you can watch the events directly from the comfort of your couch on the Istanbul 2010 website! (which is what I will have to do since I’m stuck in Cesme)

Have fun guys!


Hi Internet, just a quick update from MBHQ!

You’ve no doubt by now noticed that the sites got a bit of a re-design and some things got changed around last week. We wanted to highlight two changes to make sure everyone knows what changed.

The first and biggest is COMMENTS! Registration is no longer required to post a comment on any post. Of course if you already have an account you can still login to ensure your comments are attributed to you, but those who don’t can now post a comment without any long term commitment. Also, on the right you can see some of the recent comments so you’ll always know what the active discussions are. This was the most requested thing we’ve heard from people since our last redesign and we’re excited to see where it leads.

The next change is also something that was heavily requested, and that is a change to the ADS on the sites. You’ll immediately notice fewer of them, but what might not be as obvious is those smaller square ones to the right are specific to this city only and are being sold for a flat rate for a period of time rather than a confusing CPM/traffic/network model. Depending on the city, these range from $7-$175 for a full week. If you purchase one, during that time your ad will be the only one in that spot and will show on every page. We set these up both to make it easier for smaller local businesses to get their ads on our site, and also to help us bring in ads that relate better to our local audiences. Also, keeping these sites online is expensive and every little bit helps.

There are a bunch of other things we changed (including this broadcast function so we can more easily update everyone) but we’ll leave those to you to investigate and take advantage of. Hope you like it, and we look forward to seeing you in the comments!!

Love,
The folks at MBHQ

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Turkey Turns 85

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk

Eighty five years ago today, the Republic of Turkey was proclaimed from the capital in Ankara. From the corner of my balcony on the Asian side of Istanbul I awoke to scores of red flags  hanging from apartment windows, poles, shops and even draped across the backs of people walking down the street…the air is simply swirling with national pride.

Tonight Bagdat Caddesi will be closed to vehicular traffic from 7pm and an energy packed celebration will take place up and down the Asian sides most trendy boulevard. If you want to see Turk nationalism at its best…this is the place to be.

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Istanbulian and Turkish blogger protests

After the ban of many a video streaming websites by the Turkish government, bloggers decided to take the matter into their own hands by protesting the Chinese style censorship going on. We were getting used to the void left by YouTube when suddenly, Dailymotion, another video streaming website got banned also.

You can find more information on the ban on this website. Show us your support by leaving a comment and having a whinge with us about the whole situation :)


Terror in Uskudar II

Here are the first visuals from the attack scene.

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Terror In Uskudar

Three hand grenades were thrown at the building of the municipality of Uskudar, in Istanbul. 1 person has been injured from there knee following the attack and two people, 1 of them being a woman, escaped on a motorcycle and are being hunted down.

Is this going to be a weekly occurance? Are we not going to be safe any more? There is total ground for paranoia.

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Istanbul bomb blasts – Gungoren

Last night two bombs went off in the area of Gungoren – killing 17 and injuring  154.  Two RDX bombs went off at 15 minutes interval, the first was a smaller explosion aimed at getting people to flock towards the sound of the bomb to see if they could help incase anyone was injured and the second set off 15 minutes later, with a bigger blast, turning the area into a warzone. The PKK  are obviously the first group that come to mind in case of terror attacks but lets not forget El Kaide , who attacked the American embassy in Istanbul not long ago.

This isn’t the first and it will unfortunately certainly not be the last terror attack against Istanbul, we’re all like sitting ducks provided security measures are not increased.


Introducing The Hub

hub.metblogs

If Metblogs is a city, hub.metblogs is the playground. We kept hearing from people that one of their favorite parts of Metblogs was meeting and interacting with readers and writers from other parts of the world, as well as getting requests for more ways that readers could be involved besides just posting comments. We thought about this for a while and decided that with a network like this, a giant community area where folks from all over the world could hang out, post photos and videos, talk with each other, form groups, play games, send messages, and do about a million other things was probably a pretty fun idea. The Hub is that.

If you have any tech ideas or suggestions join this group and speak up. See you on hub.metblogs!

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Ant Oracle

ants-insects-photo.jpg

We unfortunately all know by now that Istanbul is expecting a devastating earthquake which is apparently going to be its downfall. Ever since news of this prediction is out, scientifics and nerds all have been trying to figure out the exact when and where of this 7.0 earthquake that is going to bring Istanbul down to its knees. One of these people, Kadir Sutcu, who isn’t an expert on the matter, claims that he can predict when the EQ will hit by studying the habits and irregularities of the two ant colonies that he is keeping at home. He successfully predicted an earthquake a week ago and sent thousands of mails out to people to warn them before it hit. He claims that ants start acting distressed and that a lot of them start dieing 24 hours before the earthquakes hit. You can follow his work through his website; dkos and subscribe to his mailing list if you believe his theory that ants might be able to predict and save lives. At this point, I’m thinking that it can’t hurt.


Turkey Groans…Again

Sorry to bring you bad news today…but it is, what it is. Details are still sketchy so things can change on us here, but as of posting time here is an update on today’s attack.

Around 11am this morning the US Consulate in Istanbul was attacked by gunmen, 3 Police are dead and 3 attackers are dead. Turkish news outlets report that the terrorists  never got past the checkpoint guarding the driveway leading up to the Consulate.

Hurriyet and CNNTurk are  also reporting that 3 German tourists were abducted from their 13 member climbing party sometime in the last few hours from the slopes of Mt. Ararat in eastern Turkey.

Both events have been labeled as “terrorists attacks” by the governors of their respective regions.


No Joy In Mudville Tonight

The Curtain Falls on Turkey’s Amazing Run

All great things must come to an end…and so Turkey bows out of the Euro 2008 gracefully and proudly. I decided last night that I would stay above the fray and wouldn’t mention, or even hint at the disgraceful conduct of the officiating team in their refusal to call fouls against Germany. So if you are looking for someone to agree with you and say that there was an obvious bias against Turkey, you won’t find me giving it any airtime…even though your thoughts are well developed, perfectly justified and deserve to be heard. I simply won’t lower myself to the level of the officiating team. Now, if you were to press the point and force me to express my thoughts on this, of course I would agree with you, in fact, I couldn’t agree with you more than I already  do. However,  I am determined to stay far above that type of base Monday-morning “quarterbacking” and simply accept this for what it is…a great run to the semi-finals by the finest team in Europe or Asia.
As one of my dear Turk brothers said….S’tan, it is enough that we made it to the semi-finals…let’s thank Allah for that. What a graceful answer to a disappointing event.
I will bow to Ernest Thayer and his great words to bring closure to this years amazing, but disappointing run.

Casey at the Bat

The Outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, if only Casey could get but a whack at that -
We’d put up even money, now, with Casey at the bat.

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a lulu and the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey’s getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despis-ed, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and the men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile on Casey’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ’twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped-
“That ain’t my style,” said Casey. “Strike one,” the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
“Kill him! Kill the umpire!” shouted someone on the stand;
And its likely they’d a-killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’s visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, “Strike two.”

“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville – mighty Casey has struck out.

“Phin” Ernest Thayer

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The Fat Lady Sings for Turkiye!

Turks Celebrate in Kadikoy

Turks Celebrate in Kadikoy

Over the last few weeks Turkey has ridden a roller coaster of emotions as they have fought their way into the quarter finals and then tonight the semi-finals of the Euro 2008. Beating Croatia back from victory in the last minute of overtime to tie it up, Turkey outscored Croatia 4 -2 to win their seat in the semi-finals against Germany.
In the last two matches Turkey had not scored until the last few minutes of each game, somewhere in Istanbul tonight the Fat Lady Sang for the people she loves!

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