A little old, a little new.

Istanbul Travel Blog

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We are in New Town now. You can tell by the ultra-modern architecture.
There is seemingly no end to the number of things to see and do and Istanbul. For the past few days we have explored (and been amazed in) the Old City. Today we did a pretty thorough walking tour of the New Town…also excellent!

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.
One kilo of each, please.
Be careful! We quickly got away and headed south, down a walking-only street called Istiklal Caddesi. The weather was great, there were people out and about (but not too many), and there were cute shops. This was a really nice walk.

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.
Pedestrians only...the best kind of street. Unless you're driving, of course.
This was a narrow street with a few fish vendors, as well as vegetables, jewelry, and some tourist tchoskes. It really smelled bad. Not much happening down there, but kind of interesting.

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.
Steve contemplates another purchase.
They can’t stand seeing someone without tea here! So nice. I was really enjoying myself.

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.
Inside the Jewish Museum of Turkey.
Of course I could not resist buying one of these special apples, and neither could most other people. He had a brisk little business going!  

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.
Peeled, cored, and cut into one long curled piece. A man with a gimmick sells a lot of apples!
There was no way to know we were in the right spot since there was no sign, but the man at the door confirmed that we were indeed in the right place. The entrance fee was 5YTL each.

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.
Ships at port.
Today, the Jewish population totals about 25,000… a small number, as this country is still predominantly Muslim (something like 99%).     

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…).
Entrance to Istanbul Modern.
Fancy toilets, Eames chairs, a Mini, Sony products...stuff like that.  They were also two performance art pieces, and Steve and I really liked a movie by a Vermont artist (didn’t note name) that showed three people waiting on seats in an airport. They did not appear to know they were being filmed. Some colored “auras” had been added around their bodies after that fact, to emphasize their body language, as they “invaded” each other’s space, withdrew, peeked over at each other… Well, it sounds weird but it was great. Really entertaining.

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.
A video of a man stirring a paint brush in water. It was oddly mesmerizing.
Maybe with the headscarves, Turkish woman have no need for professional haircuts). It was a Toni&Guy, very fancy looking, and there was no customers in there. There was a communication issue, but I was able to ascertain that a haircut and blow dry is 90TYL. No thanks! The haircut will have to wait…I’ve been spoiled by that awesome $20 haircut in Bangkok and now I want a good deal! Back on the bus, back home. Later, we hauled ourselves back out for grocery shopping. The traffic was horrendous and we couldn’t wait to get home… it’s wonderful out there in Istanbul, but we’ve had enough for one day!

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We are in New Town now. You can te…
We are in New Town now. You can t…
One kilo of each, please.
One kilo of each, please.
Pedestrians only...the best kind o…
Pedestrians only...the best kind …
Steve contemplates another purchas…
Steve contemplates another purcha…
Inside the Jewish Museum of Turkey.
Inside the Jewish Museum of Turkey.
Peeled, cored, and cut into one lo…
Peeled, cored, and cut into one l…
Ships at port.
Ships at port.
Entrance to Istanbul Modern.
Entrance to Istanbul Modern.
A video of a man stirring a paint …
A video of a man stirring a paint…
A shopping street called Istiklal …
A shopping street called Istiklal…
The ice-cream man.
The ice-cream man.
Baking bread in a huge wood fired …
Baking bread in a huge wood fired…
Preparing for the lunch crowd.
Preparing for the lunch crowd.
adidas store.
adidas store.
I couldnt eat something that was …
I couldn't eat something that was…
How much is that one...?
How much is that one...?
Steve and his music stores.
Steve and his music stores.
I counted a dozen music stores fro…
I counted a dozen music stores fr…
Galata Tower close up. Looks prett…
Galata Tower close up. Looks pret…
Galata Tower.
Galata Tower.
Galata Tower, again.
Galata Tower, again.
Make bread, not war.
Make bread, not war.
Our pide lunch. Delicious!
Our pide lunch. Delicious!
On Istiklal Caddesi.
On Istiklal Caddesi.
Galipded Caddesi
Galipded Caddesi
Displays at The Jewish Museum of T…
Displays at The Jewish Museum of …
Across the water...Suleymans Mosq…
Across the water...Suleyman's Mos…
View front the waterfront near Gal…
View front the waterfront near Ga…
Photo not allowed, but I did sneak…
Photo not allowed, but I did snea…
Istanbul Modern art museum.
Istanbul Modern art museum.
Istanbul
photo by: Memo