Topkapi, Santa Sofía, Dombabache palace Sultanamet,Grand Bazzar, Galata Tower…. Yes Istanbul is full of places to visit and in each trip to Istanbul a long list of very known placces come up, but Istanbul is also a place to get lost, to walk and to find your favorite corners, here is a neighbourhood were I´ve spent some time, it´s not hidden, it´s not far, is just a matter of crossing a few streets and getting into it. And for not being afraid of uphill streets! The area is partly in Bethane and partly in Beyoglu. A way to visit it is to get off the tram in Bethane and walk up by Boğazkesen street.
Maybe you can see one or two less mosques and have an eclectic afternoon walking here.
However before starting hiking up you can visit the Istanbul Modern museum. It´s very surprising. There was a black and white video that looked very like Spain in post war times, the interior of the houses and the way people dressed could be the same, also as it had no sound it gave an even more impression. Don´t forget to take a look at the special library downstairs and have a tea or even a meal in the cafe-restaurant, I have to warn you that it´s pricy.
This neighbourhood seems quiet but the activity never stops, it´s just a few steps from the ultra busy and vibrant Taksim and Istiklal ( If you get Preciados street in Madrid and multiply it by eight, this is it) but it´s totally different. Sit in a terrace for 30 minutes and watch the people and you´ll see what I mean. If you walk around you can find neat cafes, intellectuals smoking a pipe(not water pipe), yellow Vespas, second hand book and vinyl shops, old 2010 Audrie Hepburn calendar, shops with white macs on the counter, Graffiti, stickers looking like computer game aliens, Some of the most bohemian Hotels in town, historic hammans, the Italian embassy, older women covered in black, more art galleries, boutique hotels, traditional restaurants, modern restaurants decorated by designers, pharmacies selling Cialis, Viagra and Yasmin, Tex Mex restaurants where a Freddy Mercury-like-moustache-waiter serves you, alleys finishing in restaurants with pianos, Electro jazz in every corner and toyshops with ginger cats.
Not everything in Turkey is handcrafted rugs. A gallery had an exhibition with paintings that had women in burka and another covered with just transparent ropes. The neighbourhood is full of art galleries, some very modern some less. If you are into it, they can provide you with a map of all the galleries around.
One of the exhibits was about Vietnam, a reproduction of the bomb “little boy” and a huge book made in leather with over 30 pages telling the story. The pages were 1.8 meters tall!!! It´s interesting seeing how they do an exhibition about Vietnam, in the western world nobody bothers to complain or talk or even think about it any more. One of the artists took the time to show it all to us even though it was the last day of the exhibition.
Hike up, look at the buildings, enjoy the corners.
Old warehouses reconverted into cafes with different music.
One of the things I´ve liked the most is that the area has a good balance between locals and tourists. Being so close to Taksim it is surprising that in some places beer is not sold, we don´t have to forget that Islam doesn’t like alcohol, and in some restaurants they buy beer next door to bring it to you hidden in napkins. The reason that Islam doesn’t like alcohol is because the Coran says “don’t harm yourself” and alcohol harms our bodies, it makes sense even though most Turks smokes. If you fancy a beer, maybe you can try to find “Sota” restaurant at the end of an alley.
Some graffiti and the street dogs that are everywhere.
Some spanish in this gaffiti, didn´t make sense to me.
It´s full of second hand shops with furniture, old radios, old tvs or whatever you may want. My friend Alvaro bought a brand new Smeg fridge with the same look, but in a green colour.
Also with all kinds of old cinema equipment. I wonder what wierd shops I missed around here.
I prefer my backpack. One day I should talk about it.
The sticker can be called “the nuclear scream”.
Old vinyls for modern Djs. You could buy vinyls in perfect condition and at a great price.
In my walks around Istanbul I found a book called “SILK”. I’ve bought it and I´m readong it while waiting for the Iranian visa. It tells the story of silk from the time it was discovered to modern times and in every country. Next post I’ll be telling you some of what I´m learning.
Why not finish the post with a nice sunset picture? From the cafe of Istanbul Modern. If you come here and like the view head to Tomtom hotel(nothing to do with the navigator) and you´ll have a super view of the city. It´s just in front of the Italian embasy.
I have to say that I had some help to find this area, I met Carlos and Isma one day in a terrace having lunch and they told me about some shops with old stuff so, I went, liked it and then moved to a hostel in the area.
Write to you soon