Wednesday, 30 August 2006

İstanbul transport - Metro

The metro is the newest form of mass transport. Alas, as yet, there is only one line. It is fast, clean, efficient and comfortable. This is 4.Levent station. Iznik tile murals are a feature of the metro stations. At Aksaray the metro connects with the light rail, which alllows for airport access.

Monday, 28 August 2006

İstanbul transport - taxi

These little yellow taxis dart in and out of the traffic all over the place. Compared to many other cities they are reasonably affordable way to get about, at least for visitors. The density of traffic can be frustrating though.

Saturday, 26 August 2006

İstanbul transport - Tünel

An underground funicular built in the late 1800s, Tünel allowed European businessmen to travel the steep incline from Karaköy (Galata) without tiring themselves.

Friday, 25 August 2006

İstanbul transport - dolmuşes

These old style dolmuşes (mentioned in the entry on mini-buses) were at the ferry terminal in Sarıyer. Note the big black on blue "D" sign. That indicates a Dolmuş stop.

Photo taken 8 Sep 1991.

İstanbul transport - minibuses

Minibuses waiting at Kadıköy

Inside a minibus - the driver places change on the fluffy rug so it doesn't slide off. He accepts money and makes change which is passed down the bus hand-to-hand, usually while driving (weaving in and out of traffic)

In all but a few places, minibuses have replaced the older dolmuşes*. They ply fixed routes, at minimal cost. Although the routes are a bit of a mystery to the uninitiated, if you've got a modicum of Turkish language skill you can generally find out which bus will get you to which destination.

The minibuses above are waiting at the terminus at Kadıkoy on the Asian side of the Bosporus, right near the ferry wharves, and extend out to the suburbs of the sprawling Asian side of the city. In future blogs we'll visit one of these Asian residential areas where we used to live.

The dolmuş - which literally means 'stuffed' - is a kind of shared taxi which takes a set route for a fixed fare, and leaves when full. Many Istanbul dolmuş are/ were magnificent old American cars like Chevvies. Here's a photo of one. And a collection. There are still such "shared taxis" but nowadays they are more likely to be a minivan.

Thursday, 17 August 2006

İstanbul transport - ferries

These ferries ply the waters around Istanbul and are always a great way to travel. You can usually buy snacks and tea on board from mobile vendors, and in winter, a particularly popular Istanbul drink - salep, a drink made from salep flour, which is made from the dried, ground tubers of a species of orchid.

Monday, 14 August 2006

Sunday, 13 August 2006

İstiklal Caddesi 7 - Markiz

From Lonely Planet Guide, Istanbul:

"In Pera's heydey, there was no more glamorous spot to be seen than Patisserie Lebon...The place to enjoy gateaux and gossip, it was favoured by the city's European elite, who dressed to kill when they popped in for afternoon tea...
Part of the patiserie's attraction was its gorgeous art-nouveau interior. Four large tiled wall panels had been designed around the theme of the four seasons by Alexandre Vallaury, the architect of the Pera Palas Oteli, and were vreated in France. Unfortunately, only two (Autumn and Spring) survived the trip from France - they have adorned the walls ever since. With chandeliers, fragile china, gleaming wooden furniture and decorative tiled floor, the place was as stylish as its clientele.
In 1940 the Lebon was taken over by Avedis Cakır, who renamed it Patisserie Markiz. It continued to trade until the 1960s, when Pera's decline and a lack of customers led to its closure. The building was boarded up and left as it had been. In 1977 it was added to the country's register of historial buildings, following lobbying by local artists and writers.
In late 2003 the patisserie reopened, and the frontage onto
İstiklal Cad has been magnificently restored and is once again serving delicious gateaux and tea to İstanbul's elite" (and tourists like me!).

Saturday, 12 August 2006

İstiklal Caddesi 6

The nearest I got to seeing the
İstiklal Cad tram on the day of my visit was the tram tracks. The tram was out of action for repairs. Note the traditional mode of delivery - the hand cart, and the simit seller's colourful wagon (simit are a delicious sesame-seed topped bread ring)

Friday, 11 August 2006

İstiklal Caddesi 5 - San Antonio di Padua

İstanbul or northern Italy? This Franciscan church was founded here in 1725; the presebt church dates from 1913. A cool and quiet haven for a rest on a hot
İstanbul day.

Pope John XXIII, pope from 1958 to 1963 preached in this church for 10 years while he was The Vatican's Ambassador to Turkey.

Wednesday, 9 August 2006

İstiklal Caddesi 4 - Balık Pazar (Fish market)

Down Sahne Sokak, off
İstiklal is the heart of the area's fish market.

İstiklal Caddesi 3

Down one of the side streets just off İstiklal. We used to buy ham and other pork-based products at one of the vendors along here.

Sunday, 6 August 2006

A stroll down İstiklal Caddesi 1

I love the contrast in this shot between the modernised cafe on the right and the more traditional wooden building on the left.

When we lived in İstanbul, we often used to visit İstiklal Cad on our days off. We used to stroll down here, and stop for lunch, usually at a restaurant called Vesuvio, which served pizzas and Italian food. It seems to have disappeared now.

This was also before the trams were brought back, although it was a pedestrian only street.

Sometimes we went to movies in the cavernous old picture palaces, especially during the Istanbul International Film Festival.

İstiklal means "Independence", so this is Independence Avenue. In former days it was known as the Grand Rue de Pera, and was the place to be seen in European
İstanbul. grandually many of the grand buildings became dilapidated and run down, and decidedly less than salubrious. However, as in many cities, the process of renewal and gentrification has brought new life to
İstiklal Cad. once more.

So, today and in coming days, some of the sights along İstiklal Cad., May 2006.

Coming back

I lived in Istanbul in 1990 - 1991, having previously visited in 1989. This trip back during May 2005 was the first since I left in July 1991. Flying in from Barcelona, the plane travelled the length of the Bosporus and back to Ataturk airport, in the southern part of the city on the European side. It was very emotional flying in to a city I had such good memories of.