Istanbul Day Three

Istanbul Travel Blog

 › entry 5 of 10 › view all entries
 All of the possible size-related superlatives apply to Istanbul. It’s huge, immense, colossal. The city is very dense, and there is a lot of it. Our guide tells us there are 11 million residents of Istanbul, 1.5 million of whom commute from the Asian half to the European half, because that’s where everything is. From the middle of the Bogaziçi (Bosphorus) is a good place to see this, as just about everywhere is thickly covered with buildings. I suspect most of them are homes, possibly office buildings or something like that; the most recognizable edifices are mosques and the several palaces located right on the waterfront. Istanbul looks much bigger than New York, and though I’ve never seen L.A. the feeling is that Istanbul is still larger. The Turkish children are very cute; we occasionally encounter a class and they swarm around us. The first question is usually “what’s your name,” quickly followed by “where are you from” - these are probably the first two things they learn in English class. They seem absolutely thrilled to have met real live Americans. We attended the Kapali Çarsi (Grand Bazaar) in the afternoon, and we were greatly hassled by the vendors. We looked at a lot of things, but the only thing I bought was a 4-ounce box of Turkish Delight for 2 million lira. I knew I was being ripped off, but I was in a rush so I bought it anyway. Of course he was taking advantage of my haste, the language barrier, and that I was a young girl alone, but I bought it and hurried off. When we got back to the hotel, my girlfriend took a nap and I made a run to the store downstairs, where I picked up a 17.5-ounce box of Turkish Delight for 2.5 million lira. Oh well. Later in the evening, we attended a meeting of the Whirling Dervishes. I was having a bad allergic reaction and didn’t feel like leaving our hotel room, but I knew it would be the only time in my life I’d get to see Whirling Dervishes, so I went. We were incredibly cramped in a tiny observers’ area, and couldn’t see very well, but we could hear the chanting just fine. The dancers were entertaining, but after about five or ten minutes we had seen pretty much what we came to see, and still had to sit there for another 35 minutes or so. On the way out it was indicated that we should leave a tip, so my girlfriend put a 10 million lira note in the box. At the door on the way out, an old woman in a big black chador tugged on my shirt, which made me kind of nervous. My girlfriend had given 5 million lira to an old woman our second night in town, but there were several women appealing to our supposed religious sentiment begging just outside the door. One had a small child in her arms, but we couldn’t afford all of them and so gave nothing.
Eric says:
Interesting to hear how big Istanbul is! Is it a very urban city? LA is pretty large, but it's spread out over a large suburban area and you need a car to get anywhere. Downtown LA is mainly office buildings.
Posted on: Dec 08, 2005
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photo by: Memo