Published: September 13th 2011September 13th 2011
A melting pot where east meets west and it seems here that anything is possible. It is a huge city although it does seem to be fairly small in the city centre and it is not until you head to one of Islands that you realize how big it is. After a one hour boat trip to the largest of the islands the panoramic view or the city reaches as far as the eye can see. It was quite strange though that it is common, even in this city to bump into people you may know as our host was telling us. This even happened to us on several occasions as we just happened to bump into friends from Belgium and then two hours latter bump into our host.
It is interesting to talk to the locals and listen to where they believe Istanbul is geographically. European or Middle East? It is a nice debate to get into where several are on the opposite page. Often Turkish people tend to believe that Istanbul is a part of Europe and don’t argue with them than! :)
The food here is diverse as anywhere we have been due to the old
trading routes and an influx of cultures over the centuries has created a menu that is unable to be found anywhere else in the world.
We were lucky enough to go to a restaurant in the Asia side that specializes in traditional meals from southern Turley and the chef was reforming them into the society.
It is really hard to describe the city as it is just so diverse but we will mention things that we found particularly interesting, things for us we were not used to seeing. For instance we noticed a few boys aged around seven dressed in a really nice white traditional outfit. He is about to go and get circumcised. His face was shiny and happy because he is becoming a real man. These boys are going through a painful operation which means that no medicine and in return he gets a lot of sweets. Many boys don’t know what they will go through so it is why their face usually happy before this procedure.
Weddings, we saw a few around the city and some of the girls had a red ribbon around their waist.
These girls are virgins and it is a big
show and in the more traditional parts of Turkey it is even proven in not a nice way, for example after wedding night the guy puts the sheet of the bed with his wife blood which prove that she was virgin before the wedding. It is an honor for the guy and his/her family that he is marrying a virgin girl. If it turns that she hasn’t been virgin so it causes a lot problems, for example jail or murder.
The scarfs that girls use around the head are wrapped differently depending on which country they come from. Our host was able to tell their origins just from this but we are unable to remember. It depends if it is covered whole face, ripped around the neck, cover the month etc.
We went and checked out the Blue Mosque and the surrounds which were wonderful but full of tourists which seem to be mostly from Arabic countries. The Blue Mosque is a must see but it really does seem like bad feet in that place, several hundred tourist walking in around in 30deg heat and then needing to take your shoes of does not make a pleasant smell.
Usually Muslims do wash the feet and hands (around the mosque are several hundred taps) before entering the Mosque but tourists don’t. Hint; get there early to avoid the smell.
Istanbul is waiting for a bad earthquake but nobody can say when. It could be tomorrow, in few weeks, months or years. Everyone is talking about it and we can imagine that is should be really bad if a bad earthquake would happen. Istanbul is like ants’ nest and houses everywhere. In the Islands of Istanbul the houses is quite cheap because it would be effect really badly after an earthquake and don’t know what it would remain after it.
There are many classes of people. Unfortunately, from what we were told, there is no real middle class with a growing gap between low and high. People who are immigrating to other countries usually have a bad name in Turkey. We did hear that people from small villages tend to immigrate and create a new life aboard, and they aren’t “real” Turks.
It seems that Istanbul contains new Muslim culture and younger generations are a little different than older. You know the couples going hand in hand,
kisses on the street but we guess this is a capital city and we cannot compare with other cities/villages.
Well Istanbul has a lot to give and share! Everyone should be able to explore this interesting city.
There are more photos below