Happy Monday! (yes those exist)
Until my next #Airbnb stay as part of the #AirbnbBookProject, I will be doing a lot of walking around Istanbul to share the best of what this city has to offer visitors. I chose Kadikoy / Moda on the Asian side for my most recent walking tour and what an amazing choice that turned out to be as it revealed so many cool hidden spots around this 3000-year old city. Everything started on a boat.
Imagine you are sitting on the top floor of the Besiktas-Kadikoy Ferry. Wind is blowing just enough to pull your hair away from your face as though it knows it has a mission to make sure you enjoy
the view before your eyes and
warming sunshine on your face without heating up. Seagulls accompany you on this 15-minute boat ride making magical sounds that are so closely associated with the whole Istanbul experience that when you don't hear them, you don't feel complete. For the next 15 minutes, you rule the world and sky is your limit.
Then, you arrive at Kadikoy pier and it immediately shows you who really runs the world: Gypsies, who sell flowers and selfie sticks for 10 liras ($4), but of course. Just as you pull your phone out to figure which direction you should be headed towards, an amazing folk dance circle (halay) completely steals your attention. Men and women, old and young, conservatives and reformists seem to be joining the circle one after another without you even noticing where they come from. They are enjoying the hypnotic rhythm together with no reservations. After increasing political instability in the country since Gezi Parki incident, one would think that the relationship among different parts of the society would have become a little tense. Clearly when the Turks start dancing, there isn't one single politician, who can break their circle. Women with shorts next to men with beards next to more women with headscarves all hand in hand.
Welcome to Kadikoy, where you will see a true picture of Turkish society right off the boat.
As I made my way into inner parts of Kadikoy down to Moda, more beautiful surprises found me such as the skateboarding shops right next to Sahaflar (old, mostly second-hand book stores). One, of course attracts customers, who might be born after 1990s and look a little on the edgy side while groups of long-retired men and a married couple looking to find the next hidden treasure of a signed copy of a great Turkish author from the 80s frequent the other. Either way, there is a crystal clear connection between these two shops and their patrons; the joy of doing something they love. Both joy and love must be such strong positivity enforcers because never before have I seen a spiked, pink-haired, 20-year old looking more appropriate shopping for his dream skateboard right next to a 70-year old looking for his next read and talking about how hot the weather has been lately with the bookshop owner while they're both sipping from their Turkish teas. Amazing really how daily life occurs anywhere you go in Istanbul: always in conflict and yet so in peace that anything else would look extraordinary. As a Turkish woman, coming from this heritage, it's not surprising to see why I was so drawn to living in New York: capital of the "melting pot", except we don't melt into each other creating one big single-colored mush but each of us maintaining our own colors, we simply live together as one big colorful salad dish.
More variations on the Turkish salad soon to come as I walk around new neighborhoods in Istanbul and other cities around Turkey until end of August 2015. Grateful for the
for such an amazing summer!
Meanwhile, here are few shots from Moda/Kadikoy walking tour.
Kadikoy dances in circles, where everyone is welcome to join.
"Sahaf" or Bookseller Mr. Erfuz's Place
Moda welcomes you into old, local bakeries.
Moda has little vintage stores called "Zeynep Yenge" or "Aunty Zeynep."
Moda accepts. Moda welcomes.
Moda likes vintage cars and motorcycles.
People chill at the Moda Park because parks, music and people are inseparable.
No matter what.
Cats chill, of course because this is Istanbul and anything else is not.
People drink and laugh at Kadikoy Barlar Sokagi (Streets with lots of bars)
because that's what people do in Istanbul, just like anywhere else.