Istanbul Journals

A Walk Along Istikal

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A June 2010 trip to Istanbul by TianjinPaul

Galata Tower Photo, Istanbul, Turkey More Photos
Quote: Sights and sounds in and around Istanbul's busiest street.

St Antoine Cathedral

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Attraction | "Quite a Surprise"

Quote:
In 2004 I took a trip to the Middle East with a couple of friends. The two major highlights of this trip were the visits to Petra in Jordan and the Pyramids in Egypt. Both of these sights were truly majestic in their own right. However, at both of them my awe was accentuated by the element of surprise. In Cairo, my friend Miguel and I were happily sat chatting in the back of a cab winding our way through suburban Cairo when we turned a corner and suddenly the Pyramids appeared in front of us. Similarly, in Jordan we were walking along the bottom of a long winding canyon enjoying the blissful shade and shooting the breeze when suddenly the walls of the canyon peeled away and we were confronted by the G...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 28, 2010

Araf

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Attraction | "Only Purgatory by Name"

Quote:
When translated by some of my Turkish colleagues, the name of this roof-top bar on a side-street just off Istikal Caddessi really grabbed me. Araf is the Turkish word for 'purgatory'. Thankfully, as powerful and evocative as the moniker is, it is not especially fitting for the bar as Araf proved a fantastic place to spend the early hours of the morning.The only part of the establishment that actually has any resonance with its name is the process of getting in. The bar is situated on the top of a six floor building – that number may not be strictly accurate as I had put away a few glasses of Efes before we arrived at Araf and may memory could be suspect. There are two ways up. The fi...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 12, 2010

Cicek Pasaji

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Attraction | "Hidden, but not Quite a Gem"

Quote:
I stumbled upon Cickek Pasaji purely by chance. This was not at all surprising as it is certainly not one of Istanbul's more conspicuous dining locations. Unlike most other eateries on Istikal - which spill out onto the street and are heralded by overtly pushy waiters shouting and thrusting menus under your nose - Cicek's small wooden doorway scarcely even registers. Most passers-by are too distracted by the hustle and bustle of Istanbul's busiest street to spot it.Whereas on a Summer's afternoon the majority of Istikal is hot, crowded and chaotic, Cicek is cool, calm and serene. The interior dates back to Ottoman times and boasts a wonderfully antique combination of deep dark mahogany and...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on July 5, 2010

Eminou Mosque

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Attraction | "Wonderfully Serene ... Except for the Pigeons"

Eminou 1 Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
I have visited Eminou Mosque three times. And, on each occasion, I have passed through its impressive front gates decidedly flustered. The principle reason for this is the community of pigeons that live on the mosques steps, and which take to the dramatic and perilous flight whenever they sniff even the merest hint of food. To compound this situation, outside the doors to the mosque is a row of small stalls selling seed for tourists to feed to the pigeons. On each of the occasions I visited Eminou, I managed to approach the entrance just as a Turkish family was flinging seed into the air and attracting the attention of every pigeon in a three kilometre radius. When they see the food, these pigeons car...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 29, 2010

Galata Tower

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Attraction | "A Little Too Commercialized"

Galata Tower Photo, Istanbul, Turkey
Quote:
Originally constructed by the Byzantines in 1348, Galata Tower has a long and rich history. For much of the Ottoman period it was used to house European prisoners of war seized during conflicts in and around the Mediterranean. Many of these were flung to their deaths from the top of the tower if they refused to convert to Islam. Later in the Ottoman reign it's height was used as a way of spotting fires around the city. Although, ironically, this did not prevent the tower itself catching fire in 1794 and 1831. It was even used by Ottoman scientists who were experimenting with flight.With such a history, it seems a shame that the tower today is so heavily commercialized. My mother and I visi...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on June 29, 2010

Galata Tower
Galata District
Istanbul, Turkey

Midpoint

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Restaurant | "What a View!"

Quote:
Visit Hagia Sofia and Sultanahmet, eat your own body weight in kebabs and take a cruise on the Bosphorous. These are all things everyone who comes to Istanbul should do. However, close behind these comes eating dinner in Europe, whilst staring peacefully at the Asian coastline. Not only is this a wonderfully relaxing experience, but it creates a fantastic sense of wonder and exoticism. It was for this reason that my mother and I decided to have dinner at Midpoint, a restaurant which boasts one of the most dramatic views in the world.Midpoint is so named because it is situated roughly half-way along Istanbul's main shopping thoroughfare Istikal Caddessi. It is located on the second floor an...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 29, 2010