Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Day 146 - Beyoglu and a CS Party

Benny, Anton, and I headed to the European side of Istanbul to check out Beyoglu, or what is called "modern Istanbul." We took the train and a ferry early in the day to get from Asia to Europe. The ferry took about 20 minutes to get from Haydarpasa Train Station to Karakoy. The weather was overcast and misty so the views weren't as nice as they could have been.

When we arrived, we headed to a restaurant to have our first "doner kebap" meal. Most people didn't speak English very well, so we just pointed at the lamb and were served the meat on sub sandwich buns. Delicious!

Afterwards, we decided to walk uphill  and on the Istiklal Cadessi to reach our destination - Taksin Square, where most of the popular and modern restaurants and bars were located. It was about 2km uphill, and we just soaked in the daily Turkish (and tourist) life as we slowly made our way to the top. I couldn't help but smile when I saw the cobbled streets, European architecture, and people dressed in scarves and longcoats, keeping warm against the coming winter months. It reminded me of being in NYC!

We stopped outside the Galata Tower, which provided panoramic views of the entire city, but decided against going up since it was so expensive. Instead, we stopped by a number of Turkish candy shops, where they made baklava and turkish delight among other sweets. I had three...which was way too much sugar for one person...

It took us about 2-3 hours to reach Taksin Square, only because we kept stopping to take photographs in typical tourist fashion and also to grab lunch and check out a free museum showcasing the work of a South Korean artist working on "Juche" theory films in North Korea. Confusing to say the least...

After reaching Taksin Square, we took a funicular to get to the bottom of the city, before heading to Old Istanbul to catch some quick visits to the Spice Bazaar and Yeni Cami (New Mosque). With those two visits off our checklist, we searched for a good nargile (hookah/shisha) cafe before heading back to Asia.

Later on at night, we all went to a Couch Surfing House Party in Uskudar, where I met some other surfers and hosts from Turkey and other parts of Europe. Apparently, there is a HUGE Instanbul CS community and most of them are so eager to open up their homes, and even cook for you! I only wish I was good enough of a cook to make some good dishes in return...

Doner Kebap Sanwic

Galata Tower

Taksin Square

Yeni Cami (New Mosque)

Spice Bazaar

CS Party

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