September 18th, 2008 – by: Nzelvis
The pedestrian street
Our flight touched down in Istanbul with no problem, and before we knew it we had found the driver who would take us to our hotel. Now, I don't normally do guided tours, but this was our honeymoon, so I made a bit of an exception. We both wanted to do a cruise of the Aegean, and so we found a package that included a 7 day cruise, a guided tour of Istanbul and Athens, transportation to and from the airport, and 2 nights in Istanbul and Athens. You can't beat that!
As we were driving through the city, I began to wonder which continent I was on. For those of you that don't know, Istanbul is actually a city on two continents - Asia and Europe.
The pedestrian street
I knew our hotel was on the Asia side though, so I kicked back and enjoyed the ride. We arrived and checked in around 6pm, and we naturally headed out into the city to see what life was like - and to find a good place to eat! We were told of a neat pedestrian street that was quite long and ran almost from our hotel to the continental bridge, so we set out to find that. Once we left the hotel though, I had a hard time getting a good sense of direction. We ended up looking for the pedestrian street for close to an hour, walking completely in the wrong direction for a large portion of that time. We had no plans for the evening, so it was a fun walk until we got really hungry. It also gave us a chance to meet some of the locals when we were asking for directions!
We finally found the large, almost impossible to miss from our hotel pedestrian street, and started walking down it.
(I generally have such a good sense of direction, too.) We were blown away by this street though! What a neat place to be! This long street was just full of people (even on a Thursday), and was crammed with shops and little restaurants, as well as street vendors. Running down the middle of the street was a trolley track, and the trolley would occasionally pass by, causing crowds of people to scurry in either direction to avoid it. It didn't seem to slow down for anyone! At the end of the trolley, there was always at least one person holding onto the back, enjoying the free ride.
My smile was ear to ear as my wife and I walked down the street. After a year and a half, I was finally back overseas, taking in the culture and loving every minute of it.
Twirling ice cream on the pedestrian street
The vendors were selling corn for an outrageous price and also some sort of nut, which I wanted to try but I didn't want to have to pay for in case I didn't like it. Maybe some other day, I thought. As our stomachs kept complaning, we stopped in a little hole in the wall where ladies were making the bread fresh in the front. There was a bit of a language barrier but before we knew it we had plates of food, bread, and drinks. I forget exactly what I ordered, but I assure you it had rice, chicken, and plenty of bread! Wow...now my stomach was as happy as I was!
We made it to the end of the pedestrian street and walked a little further to the Galata tower. It was built in the 1300's as part of a fortification, and is all that remains of the old boundary. With the fatigue setting in, we decided not to walk all the way to the water's edge on this night. We took another leisurely 30 minute walk down the pedestrian street to our hotel and stopped at a mini-mart to pick up some water...and some cheap turkish delight!