Tarabya - Istanbul's Richest Hearts Not Wallets

"Travel becomes a strategy for accumulating photographs"

famous American writer Susan Sontag once said. I must agree. Not because we share the same birthday but I, too, cannot help going out of my way when traveling if it means there is a good photo in the end. 

That is why after I left my first Airbnb home in Cihangir that I stayed as part of the #AirbnbBookProject , I went all the way to Tarabya. When I say "all the way" I know some of you might expect a 2-hour trip; it only took me 20 minutes on the subway to reach there but for an Istanbulite, anywhere other than the very next neighborhood will seem far far away. It's kind of limiting for the locals and Tarabya was gorgeous!

Yes, there were lots of good opportunities to take amazing photos by the sea but what I did instead was take photos of the local treasures hidden in the back alleys. This neighborhood is famous for being posh, high-end, luxurious. I didn't buy that and set out to discover what really makes Tarabya the beautiful neighborhood it is today. Turned out to be the people, but of course: real locals, who lived there since the beginning of time for Istanbul.

Being a single, female traveler, I sometimes look like an alien on old, curvy streets around Istanbul, where men seem to be dominant only allowing a few female cats to run as freely as they want. They are conservative but also welcoming. I said hi to a few local shop owners: men who run places like a shoe repair shop that they inherited from their father's father. In a world where not even their neighbors up on the hills (rich guys, who discovered much later than them how beautiful Tarabya is) wouldn't come out of their fancy cars to say hi, always maintaining glass walls between their world and others', when a funny-looking woman approaches and throws a "Hi" , all they do is say hi back and smile. They look at you but not because they might hurt you but because they're curious; they want to understand better what their eyes cannot interpret well.

That has to be the best part of traveling: such human connections. That is the main reason I decided to take on the #AirbnbBookProject . Humans around the world are simply good and we need to trust each other more. 

Good photos turned out to be cherry on top for my short, little trip to Tarabya, meaning of which used to mean therapy. Being so close to the water, it indeed was therapeutic. But I don't think calming sea air is the main reason oldest inhabitants of this place live in harmony with their newer, more gentrifying "guests" (because they tend to leave if the place looses its hip factor). It's because they are tolerant, welcoming and peaceful people. 

They say hi back no matter how different you are. 

Tarabya seaside view with the historical The Grand Tarabya Hotel in the background. It completely burned down in the 50s (like any other large hotel at the time because they were all made of wooden materials) and was rebuilt from ground up and renovated recently. It seems to represent the rich and famous face of Tarabya.

But this little window with its tomatoes, red peppers and vivid colors is the real window Tarabya looks out to the world from and I must say it's one good view.