dehner: new worlds

Travelogue: Istanbul

Imagine if New York were as crowded as Tokyo and also had no traffic laws. That would be Istanbul. I wanted Istanbul to be the gleaming jewel of my trip, and it would have been, except that I was so frequently afraid for my life. See above about the lack of traffic laws. Pedestrians have no right of way, and I think they made the city garbage trucks by measuring the width of your average alleyway and then adding exactly enough clearance for one medium-sized human body. There aren't really any sidewalks on the backstreets either, so I spent a lot of my time here listening really intently for cars coming behind me, and then checking over my shoulder several times just to make sure.

Which is not to say that I did not like Istanbul! It was a fascinating place, and I'm glad I went there. I just wasn't sorry to leave.



This was our first meal ever in Istanbul. We arrived in the evening, completely exhausted, and stepped out of our apartment onto Istilklal Street, this huge pedestrian shopping street. Weaving and dodging around thousands of people, I honestly wondered what I had gotten us into. Going into a restaurant felt so intimidating -- after all, we didn't speak Turkish, and we didn't want to be the Bad Americans. Then we went inside and stood around awkwardly because we couldn't decide if we were supposed to order at our table or at the register. Luckily, a kind-hearted waiter saved us. We ordered from the picture menu and got what turned out to be one of my favorite meals on the trip - grilled steak in roasted tomato sauce on top of grilled homemade bread. It came with the best yogurt I have eaten in my entire life, and the bread -- which was crispy from the grill and soft from teh tomato sauce -- was divine.

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Our apartment was in an alleyway like this one. We loved wandering around these alleys so much that we skipped several big tourist sites just to spend more time in our neighborhood.

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Here's the spice market. It might be the most awesomely aromatic place I have ever been. Buying olives with throngs of local women made me feel like a bad ass.

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One day I got heat exhaustion, so we slept in and then went to Galata Tower, a 700-year-old stone tower you can climb for nice views of the city. The tower was too tall to fit in my photos, but I got some neat street shots around here.

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The range of people in Istsanbul fascinated me. Some women wore scarves and veils and black from head to foot. Other ladies, like these two girls, wore conservative but brightly colored scarves and coats. A lot of women dressed just like women in the United States and Europe. It seemed like a very live and let live kind of society.

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Here are some shots from the top of the tower. My boyfriend (now fiance) almost proposed to me here, but he was terrified he would drop the ring over the edge.

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Here's the Hagia Sophia, the one big tourist attraction that we actually sought out. It's important for architectural and historical reasons that my boyfriend fiance explained at length, but I'm not going to repeat them there. Mostly, I enjoyed hanging out in some place that old. Also, I like that even ancient church-mosques can have pet cats.


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This, apparently, is the Blue Mosque, the other architectural attraction I desperately wanted to see. Unfortunately, I did not even realize I was there because I didn't know it's more commonly called the Sultan Ahmet Mosque by Turkish people. I couldn't have gone in anyway because we were there at prayer time. The outside was beautiful though!

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On our last night in Istanbul, we got ourselves a little dessert picnic from this place. Most Turkish people would only order one or two bite-sized things, so the clerk's eyes got really huge when we ordered, like, twelve things just for ourselves. This is probably why Turkey doesn't have an obesity problem and America does.

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Beautiful pictures and description, sounds like you had a really great time. Makes me want to visit it myself one day :)
It is a really neat city...apparently with tons of direct flights from Germany, as that's where we had layovers. You should definitely go!
Your pictures are amazing. I love the one of the cat. It looks like a greeting card. I've never been to that region, but my sister has been to Greece and tells wonderful stories about the delicious bread and yogurt.

Happy engagement! That is awesome.
It was a very friendly cat. Clearly, it hung out there to be petted and photographed all day.

Thank you very much!
I love love all these photos. They're making me hungry and giving me another ache of wanderlust. And oh my gosh! You're engaged?!?! I cannot wait to hear that story and so many congrats! I'm so happy for you-- that trip sounds amazing and finding one person whom you love and loves you right back is pretty damn amazing too. Oh so many happy feelings!
I just posted the story. Poor boy! It was quite an ordeal. And yes, it is so amazing to find the right person after all these years. I really did kiss a lot of frogs...
Beautiful pictures! I am glad you got to see the local stuff and enjoy it.
Thanks! I'm glad I saw the local stuff too - I always end up liking the "ordinary" places more than the big tourist sites anyway.
I'm so glad you had a good time! The pictures are lovely. And congratulations! :)