Since I got to Istanbul last week I've been getting acquainted with the neighborhood where I am staying, Cihangir. On my previous trips here I've stayed in Sultanahmet, the area where the Aya Sofia, Blue Mosque, and lots of other tourist attractions are located. While it's great being in the middle of all those historical places, there are some things about staying in Sultanahmet that are not so great. One is constantly having somebody running after you asking where you are from and trying to guide you to a tourist destination or a carpet shop. Another is that there are not very many good places to eat or drink there.
|A fish restaurant (looks good but a bit pricey) close to where I am staying.|
|One of the neighborhood cafes.|
|A wine and liquor store.|
|Thıs is called börek (about the same thing as burek in Bosnia). Good!|
|View from the end of the street where I am staying.|
|One of the neighborhood cats - and there are many.|
Cihangir, on the other hand, is not a touristy area. It's a neighborhood where there are a lot of places to eat and drink, for all budgets. It's close to Taksim Square and Istiklal right near the center of the more modern part of the city. Last night, I was able to take just a short walk and go listen to some Turkish folk music in a bar about a block off of Istiklal. If I want to get to the old city, I just have to walk a few minutes down a steep hill to Tophane where I can get the tram to the old city.
|Istiklal at night with the winter decorations|
|A chestnut vendor|
|On Istilklal at night|
|A restaurant just off Istiklal with good cheap gözleme (sort of like quesadillas). The lady in the window is making them.|
|The Galata bridge (which goes over the Golden Horn to the old city) with fishermen.|
|Galata bridge fishermen|
|The Grand Bazaar in the old city|
|Kokoreç (grilled lamb intestines) in sandwiches - very tasty!|
|Fish market just off Istiklal. There are a lot of seafood restaurants around there.|
I wasn't totally sure I would stay where I am staying now. My host has a cat, to which I am allergic, but he is sending his cat off on a vacation to Ankara for the rest of the time I am here. I keep the door to my room closed, and the cat has not been in here. I haven't had any red eyes, sneezing, or feeling like I am breathing through a pinhole (my usual cat allergy symptoms). Normally I would have just gone to another place without a cat, but the location here is almost perfect.
Last week I signed up for a four week Turkish class, for half a day, five days a week. I will be in Istanbul doing that for the next four weeks. The class starts tomorrow. After the class ends I'll be heading eastward into Asia.