Tom Simard

Poetry, Music, and Prose

Istanbul

While I’ve traveled widely in the United States, Canada, and Europe, I’ve only just stepped into Asia:

775px-OldBosphorus_colorized

Istanbul is a city with a mood:

The Blue Mosque

Agia-sofia

Cistern(Photographer: Moise Nicun)

The decorative tiles are stunning:

Topkapi_Palace_(6526101629) by David Stanley

G.dallorto2(Photographer: G.dallorto)

Georges Jansoone(Photographer: Georges Jansoone)

Salep is something to savor.

And if you’re like me and have got a sweet tooth, you’ll not be disappointed:

Yasinuslu34(Photographer Yasiunuslu34)

elif ayse

(Photographer: elif ayse)

Loukoumades

Visit the Grand Bazaar:

grandbazaar Dmgulteken(Photographer: Dmgulteken)

And the Spice Bazaar:

800px-Istanbul_spice_bazaar_02(Photographer: Takeaway)

And by all means haggle.  I’m not particularly comfortable doing so, but it is expected and somewhat of a game. Any misgivings you have should disappear if you realize not doing so will mean paying considerably more than what’s expected.

Turkish hospitality if not famous should be.

Visiting the city made me want to explore other parts of the country as well. Top on the list would be CappadociaSmyrna, and Ephesus.

Since our visit I’ve read two books by Orhan Pamuk, both of which I liked, but Snow especially.  I found Mango’s book on Ataturk to be a great read.  Clot’s book on Suleiman the Magnificent and Crowley’s Constantinople: The Last Great Siege  are both excellent.

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22 thoughts on “Istanbul

  1. it’s a very nice town!!! :-P

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  2. I went to Turkey for the first time this year too and I loved it. Istanbul is wild, exciting and busy but people are incredibly friendly. I would recommend visiting another part of the country too though because places like Cappadocia are very different, It’s easy and cheap to travel around via the local budget airline Pegasus.

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    • Thanks for mentioning Pegasus, I wasn’t aware of it. I did a quick look, and I see really cheap fares from Istanbul to Kayseri (Cappadocia) which would save us from going by bus, which has got to be one very long journey.

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      • That’s right – that’s what we did when we went to Cappadocia. The bus journey would be epic and there are no trains running at the moment because they are rebuilding all the infrastructure.

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  3. Have you read Pamuk’s ‘Istanbul – memories and the city’? I loved it, not only for its wonderful descriptions of the Bosphorus and the pictures but also for his reflections on family life. I think there are passages that some readers might want to skip .. but they are very skippable.

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  4. If you are interested in 19th century French writers you won’t even be tempted to skip.

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    • You’ve got me even more interested in it. I love 19th century French writers. In fact, a month or so ago I began (2 books read) Zola’s Rougon-Macquart cycle. When I’m done with this, which I imagine is going to take me quite some time, the plan is to start Balzac’s The Human Comedy.

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  5. It has been some 25 years since I visited Istanbul and I, like you, are not particularly fond of haggling. I decided I needed to, though, and might have been actually pretty good at it (you never really know, I guess). The one thing–by the end of the day, I was always exhausted!

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    • It’s exhausting business! I’d much sooner they’d start off the price they wanted to sell it at instead of having to try to talk them down 30-50%.
      Such a great city – so much to see.

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  6. Forest So Green on said:

    I have seen those tiles on TV and they must be amazing to see in person, Annie

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  7. I’ve never had the opportunity to go to Istanbul (not Constantinople), but it’s one I enjoy hearing and reading about. To me it seems such a romantic, mysterious, exotic and maybe just-slightly-dangerous place, where intrigues are hatched over cups of biter coffee.

    One of the James Bond novels–From Russia With Love, maybe–takes place partly in (and beneath) Istanbul, as I recall. It’s probably not terribly accurate, but it made the place sound exciting.

    However, if I ever do get to Turkey, I’d very much like to visit the Dardanelles. My undergraduate thesis was on British Mistakes in the Gallipoli Campaign, and it would be nice to see that territory first-hand.

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  8. “To me it seems such a romantic, mysterious, exotic and maybe just-slightly-dangerous place, where intrigues are hatched over cups of biter coffee.”
    Wonderful.
    “However, if I ever do get to Turkey, I’d very much like to visit the Dardanelles. My undergraduate thesis was on British Mistakes in the Gallipoli Campaign, and it would be nice to see that territory first-hand.”
    A history major?

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    • “A history major?”

      Oh yes. As a double major in History & Political science with a minor in literature, I’m uniquely suited to work in any convenience store in the United States or in the English-speaking parts of Canada.

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      • Great subjects.

        I can assure you both my major and minors (Linguistics, Philosophy and French) make me equally suitable to join you at work at any convenience store in North America.

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      • Yes, but by minoring in French, you have ensured that can work all those Quebecois convenience stores that are forever denied to me.

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      • If I were given the position, I’m sure I would not hold it for long seeing the only reaction I’d likely get from customers would be a puzzled look.

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  9. I would love to go there someday. So different from what we’re used to seeing here in the US, and even in Western Europe. Gorgeous pics.

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  10. I hope you get there. It has a lot to offer. Yes, and that difference is one of the things that so appealing about it.

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