As much as I like to avoid overused sayings, Istanbul really is an East-meets-West cities. It’s clearly a Muslim country and features predominantly Turkish and Middle Eastern food, but with a strong international feel to it (I say from my Australian-dominated hostel in the heart of the tourist district). In all seriousness, it was my first “different” experience.
The food is probably a large part of why I ended up staying so long.
If you want fresh fish, you wait for these guys to catch some:
And then they fry it on this boat:
It says Bismillahirrahmanirrahim, and means “In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful”, part of the Islamic faith.
My favorite street was called Istiklal because it was alive at every time of the day. There’s a tram line running down the middle which seems like it was built in a less-busy time…
Of course I had to do the main touristy sites, including Topkapi Palace, home of the Sultans.
The real main tourist attraction, however, is the millions of stray cats that line the streets. They’re actually quite friendly.
Also, if you look up Istanbul in the news, at least half the articles tend to be about cats (including a solid pun by the WSJ calling the city Catstantinople).
Sometimes you have to take time to get to the beach for sunset.
Or watch concerts in the park.
Or learn things.
Or take historic subways.
They’re definitely concerned about security.
But when things go wrong, you can always use the payphones.
I’m not really sure where Turkey stands on gay rights, but I do know that bromance is very much encouraged.