Archive for July, 2006

Istiklal Pepper Gas

On the way back from tonights dinner at the Istiklal Caddesi Burger King we were passed by a Polis tank! Then I saw the line of riot cops dressed to kill – or at least gas – the few hundred protestors that had gathered in the street ahead. Apparently the protest relates to Palestine, but since my Turkish is lacking, that is all I could figure out.


Anyways, I just heard a few minutes ago that the gas just started flying, so if you live near Istiklal close your windows and bring in your cats.

Update: Are today’s protests related to this?

Underwear ban!

A couple of years ago, there was the opening of a beach in Caddebostan, on the asian side of Istanbul. Everyone was so happy; it was a great way to refresh yourself during the very hot summer days that we were experiencing. The first images we got through the news of the beach and the swimmers were images of men bathing in their big white underwear and women bathing with long pants “salvar”. These images were the subject of much criticism. The main satirical cartoon artists used it for weeks in their magazines, it was hilarious.
It has been announced last year that those who bathe with such inappropriate swimwear will be fined 100YTL immediately. Today it was announced that other cities have started to adopt the same attitude towards citizens who do not wear the appropriate gear to go in the sea.

Depeche Mode in Istanbul

Last night, the legendary Depeche Mode gave a great concert in Kurucesme Arena.
The access to the concert was hell but it was worth while.
Cars were parked as far as Arnavutkoy and there was a traffic deadlock at every intersection.
Thank god there is sea access to the open air event hall..
The concert-goers say that this was the best concert Istanbul had seen in the last
few years. Sting was here a couple of weeks ago also but it seems that
Depeche Mode have topped off his performance.

Yesterday’s playlist:

A pain that I’m used to
A question of time
Suffer well
Walking in my shoes
It doesn’t matter two
In your room
John the Revelator
Behind the wheel
World in my eyes
Personal Jesus
Enjoy the Silence
Leave in Silence
Never let me down

My favorites are A pain that I’m used to and Precious.

Many Districts of Istanbul

One thing I have enjoyed while walking around Istanbul is encountering the many different “districts” of Istanbul. By district I mean various streets that seem to specialize in certain products: scuba gear, photography, toilet seats, tshirts, barbeque grills, animals, etc.

If you know where to look for what you want, there seems to be a street that will have multiple stores ready to do business.

The Evolution Deceit

The other day I was walking in Sultanahmet on the way Cagloglu Hamam when I saw a stand with books, with a sign that said “Free For Tourists”. In English! Well, since I was in tourist mode at the time I decide to pick up a book.

It was called “The Evolution Deceit”, written by Harun Yahya. All about the supposed fallacy of evolution(I won’t go into my own views on that). Your basic free book, nothing that special.

But I heard from my friend the author – Harun Yahya – is a pen name for a fellow named Adnan Oktar, who in the past was a leader of a sex cult. I have not been able to confirm this at all, but I have seen that this fellow has written a lot of books.

Anyone know anything about this guy or can confirm what I have heard?

Turkish Enchantments

They tell you that “location” is everything. I have never been one to embrace the life of the “salesman”, (I tried it once a decade ago and my therapist thinks that maybe another 10 years should set me aright). But, if you are in the business of trading goods…then the old phrase fits. Location is everything.

Late Evenings in Kazasker

This column, however, has nothing to do with commerce and everything to do with geography. The last few days we have been overwhelmed with all the things that go along with changing cultures, language, and home. The process of uprooting your life and moving to the far side of the world can be difficult to navigate.
Let me taxi around this for a moment: A few years ago we lived in a major European city. After the honeymoon stage and the romance of travel wore off, we experienced what every Third Culture family will tell you about…Culture Shock. When it hits, you want to hole up, watch “Seinfeld” reruns, and shut the world out.
However, we have found the exact opposite in Istanbul. When we miss home and family, get frustrated with our language struggles, or hit the wall physically or emotionally…we find therapy in getting out and spending time with the Turks.
After living in Los Angeles and San Diego for over 38 years…we have learned to love Istanbul and its inhabitants and have, surprisingly, acclimated quickly to the cultural differences. These people are amazing. I know we will eventually have bad experiences and run into people that are unkind. But to date, 4 months into being “Istanbullus”, we have yet to find a Turk who isn’t quick to laugh or smile.
I look forward to the good natured sparring that takes place in the tourist areas as the touts try every trick in the book to get you to spend your money. We have found them easy to disarm with politeness and by remembering that their culture and style is different than ours. Lonely Planet said it best…you have to realize that these are the “pro’s”….have fun with them and be polite….(my paraphrase). After all…this is their City…right?
The last few evenings we have been up and out late, walking the streets at midnight. The weather has turned balmy, the trees and shrubs are in bloom and the smells in the air are jasmine and roses. The breeze off the Sea of Marmara is light and cool and the moon is full….

Darkening Waters

One of the books I’m reading now is Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales. In order to indicate nightfall they used a phrase which can be translated as “when the waters darkened” more or less.
As I was watching Sea of Marmara glittering in the setting sun, then getting darker and darker and darker, I remembered Grimms’ description of nightfall.
View image
View image
Fairy tales were right! Waters do darken… and so do the skies…

Well…yes, first post…Hi…


My close friends know that I am not a great museum visitor. But thanks to a Getty Instutute Summer Program I am involved with, I had come accross several museums that might be interesting for some of our readers.
Honestly, I did not expect Istanbul Archeology Museum to be that big and to contain such a range of artifacts. The entrance is close to Gulhane Park and the Museum is consisted of three buildings: Archeology Museum, Old Eastern Works Museum and Enameled Kiosk Museum….

The other museum I would like to mention is The Quincentennial Foundation’s The Jewish Museum of Turkey. As far as I know this is the only one of its kind in Turkey and it is located in such a familiar place: Just next to the Tunel station in Karakoy. Of course, I had managed not to recognize it for years…

Finally, there is the Ottoman Bank Museum. It is again in Karaköy, in the Bankalar Street. The basement is devoted to the permanent collection related to the history of the Bank, ‘which operated as the central bank, bank of issue, and treasurer of the Ottoman Empire, and this museum contains hundreds and maybe thousands of full body photos of bank employees from the early 20th century! This was because of the fact that applicants had to send not only today’s visa-size pictures but full body pictures. That means there is too much to see about wearing styles and body langueages of that era… One can also visit this exhibition right now: THE PERSON YOU HAVE CALLED CANNOT BE REACHED AT THE MOMENT: Representations of Lifestyles in Turkey, 1980-2005. This is curated by Prof. Meltem Ahiska and Prof. Zafer Yenal…
Well, enjoy your visits:)

Airplanes Over The Bosphorus

This morning and into the afternoon I had been hearing and seeing stunt planes flying over the Bosphorus: looping and flying real close to the water. It was cool, but I was wondering what the deal is. I saw it yesterday too.

Back from Vacation..or maybe not.

I just got back from Cesme (Izmir – Aegean Coast) two days ago and still can’t get over the fact that my holidays are now over and that I need to wait for another year before I can bask in the summer sun without worrying about work.
I must admit that I wasn’t very happy when I got back to Istanbul. This sorrow wasn’t caused by the city itself though, I’d say it was triggered by the fact that I knew I’d be back at work the next morning at 11am.
When I got home, I decided that I wouldn’t let all the end of holidays bitterness get to me and that I’d turn my summer in Istanbul into a pleasent experience.
Did you know that there are gorgeous outdoor swimming pools available in the city and that they’re a great escape from your every day life? I decided to make a list of all those that I could go to and forget that I’m not on vacation anymore. I found a couple (I know that there are many more but I had to start somewhere? :)
The Divan Kurucesme has a very nice swimming pool (I’m starting with this one because it’s right next to my house). The entrance costs 35YTL and the view is lovely.
The Hilton in Taksim has prices which range from 65YTL to 120YTL on the weekends (BBQ included, BBQ excluded it’s around 90YTL). I like the Hilton, my mother used to take me there when I was little.
Reinas owner rented the Galatasaray Island which is on the Bosphorus for five years and turned it into a ‘Beach’ resort called “Su Ada“. I’ve been looking all over the internet for the entrance fee but couldn’t find it. It looks very nice from outside but I reckon they should put more information about it on the net so that people have a chance to check it out before they travel all the way there.
Park Orman claims to have the biggest swimming pool in Istanbul which is something I’d have to check out! 40YTL during the week and 50YTL during the weekend.( I dont think I’d want to give that much for Park Ormans swimming pool..)
I know there are many hotels that offer the outdoor swimming pool in Istanbul so it’s really upto you to see which one you’d rather be lazy at.
Hope this helps.

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