A little old, a little new.
Istanbul Travel Blog› entry 145 of 251 › view all entries
July 15th, 2008 – by: cmgervais
First let me clarify. “New” in Istanbul is not really NEW (although relative to the thousand- year-old sites in the Sultanahmet area, I guess it is). The area was built up in the 19th century, and has a very European look to it.
We started at Taksim Square, understanding that this was the “center” of the New Town. There is absolutely nothing to see there. It is a place where many roads come together, and speeding cars and buses attempt to run down hapless tourists.
After while we came to an area mentioned in our guidebook, called Cicek Pasaji, or the Flower Arcade. I guess at one point this was a covered side street where flowers were sold. It appeared to be taken up with one big restaurant, and since we didn’t want to eat we felt a little awkward after we walked in. We quickly left and walked down to another nearby side street called Balik Pazari, or the Fish Market.
We went back to our street, which split off to become Galipded Caddesi. Steve thought we had wandered into heaven, as the street was lined on both sides with music store after music store! It’s amazing that we ran into this today, as he just bought a mandolin at the Grand Bazaar yesterday. While he combed the stores, I parked myself outside and enjoyed the weather. It was scorching in the sun, but the shade was perfect. Some of the store owners were hanging around outside as they tend to do, and together we watched a cat fight which made us all laugh. Some fur flew, but no one got hurt. After awhile, one of the guys brought me a cup of tea.
Meanwhile, in the store, Steve found a wonderful old mandolin that had actually been made in Turkey (all the others he found had been made in China). It was about 100 years old and had a nice sound to it…he was really regretting yesterday’s purchase. The price wasn’t too high and he was seriously considering another purchase…but in the end he (slowly) walked away.
Our next stop was the Galata Tower. This is a very interesting, looking pointy stone tower, built in 1348 (so much for “New” Town!). There were people just hanging out in the little square at the base of the tower, and there were several cafes and shops. A man had a machine that peeled and cored an apple, then delivered it cut into one long curly piece.
We decided to have lunch in the area. Sick of the $40 restaurant lunches, I jokingly set a budget of $5 each and we looked for a street vendor. We food a pide (pizza) shop and managed to eat for about half our budget! And it was very, very good. We enjoyed our lunch on a bench at the foot of the tower. (We never did go up in the tower, although I understand there is an observation deck there.)
OK, and then we were off again. We walked all the way down to the waterfront area, near the Galata Bridge, and searched for the Jewish Museum of Turkey. It was a little hard to find, but we finally tracked it down.
The museum was really interesting. As Jews were being expelled left and right in Europe during the Middle Ages, the Ottoman Empire welcomed them into Turkey, so the population really grew. There was also a letter from Albert Einstein on exhibit, in which he asked the Turkish government to open their doors to the many Jewish scientists, doctors, and professors needing to leave Germany. Many of them found homes in Turkey. There were biographies on many Jewish residents who had found success and held high ranking jobs in Istanbul. Also on display were photos, clothing, Torah cases, and other religious memorabilia donated by local Jewish families.
After this, we walked along the waterfront, where there were restaurants and some guys swimming (yuck! The water looked nasty). Of course, if we are in the New Town we should see some modern art, right? We went to Istanbul Modern, the city’s modern art museum, located in a weird section of warehouses and kind of confusing to find when you are on foot.
The permanent exhibit featured mainly Turkish artists, and has a nice, neat organization to it that I liked. Good curator. There were two pieces I would have loved to take home with me :^) Downstairs, there was a special exhibition of product design from various major cities (Paris, Tokyo, London, LA…).
After this we were DONE with the sightseeing. We made our way to the bus stop, and it felt like a really long walk. We had covered a lot of distance at this point and were so tired. On the way back, I got off the bus where I had seen a hair salon earlier (it’s odd, I have been looking for a salon for days, but have only seen this one.
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