Istanbul, Turkey

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.

I thought it was weird that we (or at least I) associate people that look like this with Ninjas. Not sure where that misappropriation comes from.
I thought it was weird that we (or at least I) associate people that dress like this with Ninjas. Not sure where that misappropriation comes from.

The food is probably a large part of why I ended up staying so long.

There's tons of street food, including mussels with lemon.
There’s tons of street food, including mussels with lemon.
BAKLAVA
BAKLAVA
Insanely tasty fresh juices for cheap (50 US cents for an orange juice).
Insanely tasty, cheap fresh juices ($0.30 for a cup of orange juice).
It's like Turkish Subway with potatoes.
It’s like Turkish Subway with potatoes.
It's basically deep-fried sugar, and then glazed with honey.
Deep-fried sugar, glazed with honey.

If you want fresh fish, you wait for these guys to catch some:

2015-08-23 19.24.52

And then they fry it on this boat:

Just when you thought German had the longest words in the dictionary.
Just when you thought German had the longest words in the dictionary.

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…

This tram driver has the privilege of constantly honking and hitting the occasional tourist (2 in the 10 minutes I was riding).
This tram driver has the privilege of constantly honking and hitting the occasional tourist (2 in the 10 minutes I was riding).
The cop doesn't care about all the people attached to the outside of the tram; fare evasion isn't really a crime.
The cop doesn’t care about all the people attached to the outside of the tram; fare evasion isn’t really a crime.
Right next to the expensive and lavish tourist district is a much poorer area that looks like this.
Right next to that expensive and lavish tourist district is a much poorer area that looks like this.

Of course I had to do the main touristy sites, including Topkapi Palace, home of the Sultans.

Cropped for content.
Cropped for content.
This was great. He got a phone call while taking a selfie, so he had to take the call with the stick still attached...
This was great. He got a phone call while taking a selfie, so he had to take the call with the stick still attached…
1 minute later, this girl asked a random guy to take her picture. Much like humans were doing as little as 2 years ago, and also for the 500 years before that.
1 minute later, this girl asked a random guy to take her picture. Much like humans were doing as little as 2 years ago, and also for the 500 years before that.

The real main tourist attraction, however, is the millions of stray cats that line the streets. They’re actually quite friendly.

Ready to play.
Ready to play.
They also are happy to follow you around.
They also are happy to follow you around.

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.2015-08-31 19.36.13

Or watch concerts in the park.

Heavy metal and mosh pits are an international concept.
Heavy metal and mosh pits are an international concept.

Or learn things.

Physics equations are important. Also wanted to take another chance to photograph a cruise ship.
Physics equations are important. Also wanted to take another chance to photograph a cruise ship.

Or take historic subways.

The world's second-oldest underground rail line!!! Contrasted with the world's newest haircut on the left.
The world’s second-oldest underground rail line (1874)! Contrasted with the world’s newest haircut on the left.

They’re definitely concerned about security.

Security is everywhere in crowded places, including a mall here, stadiums, and even just to get into the lobby of the airport.
Security is everywhere in crowded places, including a mall here, stadiums, and even just to get into the lobby of the airport.

But when things go wrong, you can always use the payphones.

Your call will be recorded, for training porpoises.
Your call will be recorded for training porpoises.

I’m not really sure where Turkey stands on gay rights, but I do know that bromance is very much encouraged.

Just having a good time.
Just having a good time.
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