Archive for the ‘Places’ Category

Nightmen of Istanbul I

For years I have tried to pass myself off as a morning person. For whatever reason, people take great pride in being early-risers. Those of us who aren’t, are made to feel as if we are less than prudent…after-all, the early bird gets the prize, right? You never hear anyone fudging the facts about getting up too early…in fact it is quite the opposite. But for those whose clocks are not set to “senile”, we avoid the topic of being late risers.
When someone calls and wakes me up at 10am I have to fight the urge to act like I have been up for hours, lots of hours…in fact, maybe I have been up for so long that it is almost time for me to go back to bed. I don’t know who started the trend of “early is better than later”…but I have finally capitulated and freely admit that I am a night person. I like staying up late, I like to walk through the City when all is dark and quiet, there is something magical to me about being able to walk down the wide boulevards and avenues without the masses of traffic that sit in gridlock during the daylight hours.
Nightmen of Istanbul
When I was a kid in San Diego I used to lay awake waiting to hear the sound of the street-sweeping truck as it wound its way through the balmy streets of Southern California. The driver would stop about 3am next to our house and use a fire hydrant to refill his tanker. I would peer out my parents bedroom window and watch him in his big rubber boots and short sleeves and dream about having that job when I grew up.
Those sentiments are still strong, in fact I have a hidden motive that this column will result in an invitation to hang with Kadıköy’s Belediyesi as they troll the streets in the middle of the night, (any takers)?
When streets that see millions upon millions pass by during the day are vacant and still ,  traffic lights are flashing yellow and red, and the only places that are open are a few scattered Tekel shops, gas stations and bakeries…there is an enchantment to this city that is hard to describe. This may sound overly nostalgic, but to be out and about when the City of the World’s Desire sleeps is a chance to  catch a glimpse of what it might have been like to walk the streets of Byzantium…without the apartments, traffic lights and asphalt–Yes, I realize that’s a stretch, but it appeals to my sense of history nonetheless.
Last night while trying to fall asleep at 3am I heard the Belediyesi’s water truck slowly creeping down Minibus Yolu in Kadıköy. A lone city employee sat on the back of the tanker and watered down the parkway with a fire-hose while the driver idled at a snail’s pace down the middle of the road.
An hour later a crew of walking street sweepers finished cleaning up the detritus from our Thursday pazar and loaded into a truck to go home. The shift changed at the gas station and the lights of the early-risers started flickering on in the kitchens of apartments across the street. Once the call to prayer rang out I shut the panjurs and headed to bed…an early-riser might ring me before noon and I certainly wouldn’t want to put a dent in their day by being wide awake.

Mehmet Moves In

Zonaro's Gate of Constantinople.

I guess 555 years has a way of diluting the history of conquest and defeat. Today, May 29th, marks the anniversary of the conquest of Constantinople, the defeat of the Byzantium Empire and the death of Constantine XI. Yesterday I took a walk along Theo’s famous wall and tried to imagine the difference 5 centuries can make.

In May of 1453 while the death throes were already shuddering through the fading Byzantine Empire and Constantinople’s fate had probably already been sealed…it wasn’t so much the heat of battle that caused the breaching of Theodosius’s famous land wall. It was the simple fact that a gate, possibly obscured by rubble, had been left unlocked. The Kerkoporta Gate on the northern portion of the land wall and not too far from the Golden Horn was soon discovered by the Ottomans to be unsecured. They flooded through the gate and into the streets, Constantinople was overrun and the Ottoman Empire began its amazing rise.

If you want a taste of the history you can take the train from Sirkeci to YediKule station and visit the YediKule Zindanlari Museum…yesterday we had it all to ourselves and from my post on top of the walls I can report to you that for today–all is well.

Alternative city map of Istanbul…

Have a look at this site whose manifesto I quote here:

M A N I F I E S T O

We are currently working on an alternative city map for Istanbul. Our main aim is to make the different aspects of overall urban renovation processes clear, visualizing the major actors, motives, motivations and results of these processes on a map.

istanbul street style

do not miss the istanbul street style page, created by the ISS Team. nice photoblog.

“Foreigners chose old Istanbul as residence

Just to say hello after a long while with a quote from a TDN article. After changing my address, i have been playing with my own blog and neglected others. Hopefully, i will be on track soon and as the news reviewer, let me quote this:
Ayşegül Akyarlı Güven says:

The 50 thousand foreigners living in Istanbul prefer to live in historic areas like Galata, Balat, Gümüşsuyu, Cihangir and Beyoğlu, but demand for Salacak and Fenerbahçe on the Anatolian side, and Ulus, Levent and Maslak on the European side is on the rise. Zekeriyaköy is the choice for those who prefer seclusion, while those looking for a secure environment prefer Kemerburgaz and Bahçeşehir….

This certainly enriched the cosmopolitan nature of Taksim and its environment and might do the same for other districts but the only negative consequence of this development, I can think of at the moment is that most of local people might not be able to afford rents and prices there. This is already what is happening in Cihangir….

View from Icadiye Caddesi

Icadiye Caddesi and its side streets popped out of the March gloom into a few moments of sunshine this week. This old neighborhood makes for some incredible scenery and poking around. You can find it just north of the ferry terminals in Uskudar.

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No name change for Pierre Loti Heights!

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In TDN’s terms:

One of yesterday’s striking issues was a proposal that Ahmet Genç, the mayor of Eyüp, a conservative district of Istanbul that includes an area of the Golden Horn in question, proposed to the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Council last Friday to change the name of Pierre Loti Heights to the “Eyüp Sultan Heights.” Eyüp Sultan, a holy man and disciple of Prophet Mohammed, was buried near the site in 1458 and his remains are in a mausoleum there known as a “Türbe.”

The council made a decision late yesterday afternoon and determined the name “Pierre Loti Heights” should remain as it is and therefore rejected the proposal, reported CNN-Turk…..
Well, why one needs that? That name is there for years and why one needs threatened with that? Of course, there are ideological and cultural answers, i am not that naive (!)

“Istanbul’s map of romanticism

As Istanbul bloggers, we could design a more personalized and detailed “map” but here is what we have. Today in Radikal, a short piece points out some cheap but good spots in Istanbul…

Unkapanı Bridge…

I guess, we haven’t seen Unkapanı Bridge like that before. This bridge is one of the three bridges over the Golden Horn and it was on the march route during Hrant Dink’s funeral…

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Here is one more shot from the funeral. In front of the building Agos’ offices are…
(more…)

Wintertime Islands

After several days break the fog has come back today.
In the meantime we had a mild and sunny Sunday, which I regarded as an opportunity to go to Islands.

Walking on the narrow, steep or stepped streets of Heybeliada while adoring those old, elegant wooden houses, sometimes losing myself in carvings of doors or windows of those houses, eavesdropping talks of chatty seagulls, talking with extremely well-fed, cuddly cats of Heybeliada, watching the clear blue sea and sky and also İstanbul at the distance through those wooden houses or pine trees, walking through the pine forest and smelling that pleasant smell of pines.

In one of my previous posts I wrote: “I love strolling on the Islands…during winter, I should add, during which I can hear my footsteps..during which I hear nothing except my own footsteps. Naturally far away sounds of waves can be heard… and the sound that wind creates among pine trees. Those are the times I meet noone, but cats and maybe dogs. Those are the times the Islands are deserted, but not dejected.”

Well…if you go to Islands nowadays, you can smell pine trees, see beautiful landscape and houses, hear talks of seagulls, dogs and cats, spend a few hours enjoying peace and solitude… and hear your own footsteps… Do you have any chance to hear your own footsteps on the streets of İstanbul? (Except the ladies who wear those exremely high-heeled shoes!) You will have all these plus ached legs because of climbing steep streets:)

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The red church…well it is Agia Nikola Church, but since I was a little girl I kept on calling it as “Red Church” Do I have to explain why?

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I suddenly came across a small tangerine tree loaded with its orange coloured fruits in a garden of a house… I clapped my hands in delight: because of İstanbul’s high latitude and its average weather conditions are much colder than usual citrus growing regions, citrus trees are rare in İstanbul. But still Istanbulites try to cultivate citrus trees for decoration purposes and coming across them when they are loaded with fruits makes ‘gloomy’ winter days shine…

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Cuddly cats of Islands are not only chubby but also chose the weirdest places to sit!

I’ll be quite out of the topic now: when we will have the real winter? Rain and snow? It snowed at the beginning of November and from then on nothing! No rain, no snow…

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