Archive for the ‘Traffic & Travel’ 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.

Summer Comes a-knockin’!

I’ve been back in Istanbul for one week now and god knows how I’ve missed it so.

My first weekend back was spent shopping and since the weather was so gorgeous, we decided to indulge ourselves with a boat tour. If you don’t already know, there are boat tours of the Bosphorus that leave every day from Ortakoy (where we boarded) and Eminonu. The sights are truly magnificent, especially during the warm weathers so it is highly recommended that you drop whatever it is you are currently doing and hop on to a boat to enjoy the Bosphorus like it should be enjoyed.

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Check out the neighbours

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We’re momentarily blessed with beautiful weather so like the good Istanbulite that I am, as soon as I saw the sun this morning I set out to walk to Kurucesme for grocery shopping.
I was very pleasantly surprised when I got there because of the travel ads for Greece that were plastered all over the walls.
Don’t believe everything you hear, even though there is a supposed hatred between the two countries, I think it’s time for everyone to grow up, get over it and embrace each other before it’s too late.
Hopefully the ads won’t be defaced.

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“Istanbul’s hidden treasures

Hürriyet posted about 11 places in the boundaries of Istanbul. One day i will see those sites but not this weekend! There is our conference. Come to the conference and travel later:)

the latest solution to Istanbul’s traffic

the Istanbul mayor declared that in order to decrease Istanbul’s Monday traffic, cabs will work with 50% discount 3 days a week. the Mayor had stated that the head of Taxi Drivers’ Chamber promised to do that. Check out Yalçın Bayer’s column [in Turkish] on his suspicions about this idea and other traffic-related projects…

A newspaper article on dolmuş…

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Finally, someone wrote on Dolmuşs. At first I thought the article was about those small vans that were available all the time. They are my favorite ones though I don’t use them much. In the chaos of traffic, despite what it looks like, I trust most of dolmuş drivers. They are bricoleurs, fast, furious but skilled and experienced drivers. Not necessarily they are gentle but in case you are in a hurry, or in case you are stuck in the middle of night…some lines work 24 hours a day…they are the solution. However, Today’s Zaman article(Appreciating Turkey while packed in a dolmuş) is about those bigger dolmuşs; that have similar logic of transportation with the smaller ones yet they are more annoying and they are mostly available in “normal” hours of the day, until after a little later that official public transportation means stop….

Istanbul in three zones….

According to the newest municipality plan, Istanbul will be divided into three zones. The authorities have London and Singapore in their minds.. Here is the news item. But no worries this won’t start before 2012!

Visa for Istanbul?

This is not totally new. But Mr. Erdoğan was more vocal this time and stated his wish to limit migration and car ownership in Istanbul. However, paying to enter downtown areas seems to be more plausible, not to mention the issues of citizens’ right for mobility… Well, Turkish citizens were hoping to move in Europe freely but they might not even move within Turkey if Mr. Erdoğan’s wish can be realized….

15 Billion Dollars…

That’s the amount needed to solve Istanbul’s traffic. That is what the Mayor says…(in Turkish)

Istanbul’s traffic; now a State problem!

On Friday, there will be a high profile meeting between the four ministries and Istanbul municipality in order to solve the ever growing traffic problem. Istanbul mayor Mr. Topbaş says in order to develop and finish Istanbul subway system on time, they need the state aid. Mr. Mayor is ready to forward the subway to the Ministry of Transportation…and according to an OECD report, Istanbul needs 60 billion in order to make investments to reach the EU standards……

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