On the first day in Istanbul the weather was rather cloudy and quite cold. Nevertheless, I made my first trip to Taksim Square with the famous Gesi Park, around which the demonstrations ignited at that time.
Afterwards I walked down the hill to the Dolmabatche-Palace. But I saved the visit for the days when my Korean friend Sua is also here. After that I walked along the shore in a south-westerly direction. Very close to the “Istanbul Modern” Museum, which is currently under reconstruction and therefore closed, I discovered a few streets that are probably very popular with the young people at the moment. A crowded café or restaurant follows the next one and in between a few cool shops with young fashion and accessories. As my feet are starting to hurt, I walk back to my apartment.
The next day the sun shines. So I’m off on an extended photo tour. A huge modern shopping street leads from Taksim Square down to Golden Horn, where even on Sundays crowds of people move around. The famous historic tram also runs up and down here. The road ends near the Galata Tower. To my surprise, there is a queue of people several hundred metres long in front of the Galata Tower, all of whom want to enjoy the view over to the Golden Horn from its top. I walk further down the winding alleys to the Galata Bridge and over to the Golden Horn. On both sides of the bridge one angler stands next to the other. Only in the middle of the bridge, where the ships pass, they leave a gap. On the lower level of the bridge is one restaurant next to the other – also with the exception of the gap in the middle of the bridge.
On the other side I walk first through the spice bazaar, which is also called Egyptian bazaar. On the other side we continue up the winding alleys to the “Grand Bazaar”. But the closer I get to him, the fewer of the small shops to the left and right are open this Sunday. When I finally stand in front of the Grand Bazaar, it has actually closed completely, which surprises me very much, since practically everything has opened in the rest of the city.
So I walk on towards Hagia Sophia. Also there you can meet crowds of people who use the nice weather and Sunday to visit the Hagia Sophia and the blue mosque directly opposite or to sit in the park in between in the sun. Since the Blue Mosque is free, I won’t wait until Sua is here, I’ll go right in. But first I have to wait 20 minutes until the prayer time is over. Afterwards the visitors may visit the mosque in a small closed part, while the larger part remains also further reserved to the praying. The beautiful mosaics on the walls and the vaults are mostly in blue, which also gave the mosque its name.
Since I still have a long way back and it’s getting late already, I’m on my way back.
The next three days it rains quite heavily, so I stay in the apartment and work for my clients to earn some money and also to create some “air” for the days when Sua is there.
On the fourth day it finally stops raining again, and although it is still very cloudy, I decide to take another tour through the city and this time also to explore the metro system.
At Taksim Square I go down to the metro and want to buy the “Istanbul Card”, which can be loaded with credit, so that it is debited there every time I take the metro. The card itself costs 6 TL (about 1,50 Euro), but you have to give at least 20 TL in the machines. The remaining 14 TL will be credited directly on the card. So much for theory. When I clicked through the menu at the machine and finally paid for the 20 TL, it happens… NOTHING! Money gone, but no card appears. Oh, great!
So I talk to one of the security officers, who of course doesn’t speak a single word of German or English and try to make it clear to him with my hands and feet that the machine has swallowed my money but hasn’t ejected a card. He even seems to believe me and indicates to me that I should follow him. So I walk through a kilometre long labyrinth through the corridors of the subway behind him until we finally arrive in a large control room. He explained my problem to his superior. He then hands him a whole stack of cards. So we go together to the next machine and he checks one card after the other how much credit is still on it. I suspect these are all cards that someone has lost. When he finally finds a card with a little more than 14 TL of credit, he gives it to me. I thank him and walk back through the corridors and take the subway in the direction of Golden Horn.
At Haliç station, which is located in the middle of a bridge over the Bosporus, I get off and walk the rest of the way to the Golden Horn. On a rather winding path, past old ruined houses, I climb up to Süleymaniye Mosque and visit it. It is also remarkably large, but not as richly decorated as the Blue Mosque. Afterwards it goes to the Grand Bazaar again. Since I come from the other side this time, however, I first enter the books bazaar, which has actually existed since the xxxxx and was set up for the students of the university, so that they can supply themselves with the necessary books. Then I enter the huge labyrinth of the Grand Bazaar. Countless small shops selling almost everything from jewellery, carpets, clothing, sweets, spices to souvenirs and other kitsch. I quickly lose my bearings in the winding alleys and have no idea how much I really saw of the bazaar or whether I missed half of it when I finally step out into the daylight again. Since it is already getting late again and the weather has not improved either, I decide to make my way back. I walk through the university quarter to the next subway station and take the next train back to Taksim Square.