June 22, 2012

Istanbul Update #2

Oh Istanbul you are so magnificently beautiful you have no idea.
Or maybe you do.
Its people take you either for granted or live it up to share their love for you with the world.
That's what I'm doing.
At least I'm trying.

The above picture was taken in the afternoon at Baylan, one of Istanbul's oldest patisseries.
It opened in 1923, and the branch I go to opened in 1961.
Whenever I enter I get a little "nostalgic".
Just thinking my grandfather went in there years ago, 
my mom and aunt walked in as teenagers enjoying tea, and some sweets...
...and today I'm doing just the same.
Kind of fantastic.

Granted it is not a luxurious place.
It's very simple, but it's tradition and I love tradition.
So, whenever I'm in Istanbul I go to Baylan.
A must.
If I don't go, my visit failed and my mission was not accomplished so to speak.
It's like going to California and not going to the beach or In'n'Out.
That simple.

If you ever happen to go to Istanbul and happen to have time or walk by Baylan.

 Just seeing this pretty much every day made my day.
And the sky was that blue and cloudless.
Loved it.

This is an old ferry station no longer used as such but used as a restaurant.
I sometimes come here for tea or coffee or a light snack.
This year, I only took a picture of it. I never went it.
But I saw it every day.
So worth it.

It is also worth not sleeping in in this city.
Traffic was horrible and beautiful at the same time.
I mean it. I really did not mind.
Otherwise, how could I have had the time to watch people?!
While waiting in traffic you get to watch people also in their cars, on their phones, singing along to music, or you get to simply listen to their music because their window just like yours is rolled down and loud music is streaming out as if it was there to entertain the world.
You get to hear the traditional songs, the summer music charts of 2012, the oldies from where our parents were our age or even younger, the oldies we call "old school" but hey, 1992 isn't that long ago compared to 1960, the Turkish rock, and in the middle of it all you get to hear what you will hear the second you exit the airport: honking.

I am so Turkish I tell my friends here to honk.
You have a car and that car makes a particular sound once you hit the middle of your steering wheel.
Have you ever used it before?
Yes? No?
Trust me, I know people who have never used it before. Ever. Not even when they test drove their car.
But sometimes it is necessary. Not for fun, but for emergency or something like that.
Don't overuse it. ;) 

In Turkey, and well, in Istanbul...honking is part of their lifestyle, part of their music, too.
You honk.
You honk to let other cars know the light turned green and it is their turn to drive now.
They stopped way too late so they can't really see when the light turns green.
So you honk.
You also honk while driving through narrow one-way streets to let possible oncoming cars
 (from the side streets) know that yes, YOU ARE COMING too.
You also honk to make sure the pedestrians know you're driving and well, since the pedestrians usually walk on the street as well, just to warn them that they are in danger and should maybe move.
You honk to say see-you!
You honk to say hello!
You also honk to let others know they should move their car a little so you could squeeze yours into an imaginary lane.
Or you just honk because it's a wedding.
Or your soccer team won.
 Istanbul has three major soccer teams...all of which are pretty good in my opinion, 
but I am biased again...especially since my soccer team of Istanbul won the Championship this year!
You just honk.
Oh, you also honk just because others do.
At least it feels that way.

This is a pretty random picture of a pretty random street in the midst of Moda.
It is not even close to any of the so-called famous and traditional attractions Istanbul has to offer.
It's pretty far away.
On a different continent.
Yes, the attractions like the Blue Mosque etc you get to see and should see as a first-time visitor are all in Europe though I always live and always will live in Asia.
Pretty fantastic situation if you ask me.
I wake up and ask myself whether or not I should go to Europe, or just stay in Asia.
Obviously, they don't say let's go to Europe or Asia...but it's fun to think of it that way.
I love the Asian side more.
It's less touristy.
It's more Istanbul.
The Istanbul today.
Without the tourists.
Oh, don't get me wrong I love the tourists.
They are the ones bringing in money.
My cousin hates the tourists and I understand.
As tourists (in any country) we tend to ruin the country.
Sadly we do.
But we also establish the country and make it grow, a little.
Our money will be kept in that country, possibly spent on a ridiculous amount of jewelry or whatnot.
So, I like the tourists.
A bazaar would not operate at all without the tourists.
A Blue Mosque or an Hagia Sophia Mosque would maybe not be as pretty as they are today.
Who knows.
So I love the tourists.
I just don't like the touristy feeling, and the constant "hello, how are you today? Let's come into my restaurant for dinner tonight!" sentences...because, no, thank you, I'm local and I know the real deal.

I drove through the touristy side one day.
Its vast history is amazing.
SO WORTH it, absolutely. 
Also, you may end up seeing what I described in my previous post.
I just cannot stand those restaurants.
One after another, with menus mostly in English.
So I wondered...
...and hoped for the love of traveling...
...that whoever lives in this area hopefully also moves his or her butt a bit further out that area and discovers more than just that of Istanbul.

Sad truth though is that most tourists don't.
They stay in that area and that's then Istanbul for them.
Or Turkey.
But Turkey has so much more to offer.
Not just its culture, its history, its flair, its food and drinks...
...but the people!!!

I digress I know.
But any country has more to offer than what meets the eye.
We all know that.
And I'm glad I know more about Istanbul than most people.
AND, still, I know nothing.
It's that huge, and that enormous.

More to come...I promise!

But if you are interested in reading more, and maybe seeing more
 I'd recommend you read or look at the following links...awesome describtions of this amazing city!




Unknown said...

oh so gorgeous! have a lovely weekend :)

Tiffany said...

I love the part about honking! What a great update :-)

Amy Shaughnessy said...

I would fit in there because I honk all the time! Great pictures.


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Leeann @ Join the Gossip said...

So when I first saw the picture on Instagram I thought it could be CA! It reminds me so much of the end of the Huntington Pier!

OK I've made up my mind. We are going to Turkey. You'll be my tour guide!! :) Deal? Hehe

P.S. I never honk lol! Even if someone is about to hit me. I need to start using my horn!

Christianna said...

This post is great! See you in a a week and a half!

Ashley said...

LOL to the honking. HAHA. That is so Turkish.

I also love the Asian side, plus my family lives there so that's where I usually stay. Love these posts! Keep em coming!

Carol {Everyday Delights} said...

I so want to go!

Crazy Shenanigans-JMO said...

You have described the city perfectly! I love it!

Al said...

Again, Selma,I am soaking up every word. And the honking? Totally agree, and when driving with my mom and sister recently a car started to merge and though I didn't honk, I placed my palm against the steering wheel. Immediately my Mom and sister noticed and said, "Is that from Istanbul?" Yup. It is.

And I agree. I was happy to live on the Asian side - totally different culture and feel. Loved it.

Unknown said...

Cambodians honk like crazy too. Maybe it's the Asian side of Istanbul ;)


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