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22 July 2012

Wandering in Byzantium - The Streets of Istanbul

Istanbul is magic. It's full of magnificent architecture, the food is great and the Golden Horn and Bosporus are splendid. Admittedly, I didn't venture beyond the Sultanahmet/Grand Bazaar area because there is so much to look at there I ran out of time, but what really strikes one about the city is the street theatre. So here are some photographs in the streets of Istanbul.

At first glance, this could be pretty much anywhere.
outside main railway station, Istanbul
But then you look again

Things happen in the streets of Istanbul. Sometimes they're quite normal things, like tending the multitudinous parks and gardens.

These are the Topkapi Palace gardens, but even freeway embankments are adorned with lawns and flowers.

One of the people who look after it all
There are always road works in progress, too.

Driving in parts of Istanbul does get a bit tricky at times. This is the street where I was staying.

Most city streets have lines painted down the middle but in Istanbul something more substantial is necessary. The staples down the middle of the road are to ensure the traffic keeps to one side or the other. Which side is pretty much optional, depending on where the obstructions are.

Sensible people walk around the city, and there are people about waiting to clean your shoes. They all have these elaborate boxes for their brushes and polishes. But I don't know how much trade they get. Most people I saw were wearing either thongs or runners.

Of course, there are buskers around the streets, including the inevitable South American band. Although in this case, there was only one musician required.

Turkish bands get a bit bigger.

These gentlemen paraded around the Hippodrome before putting on a performance on stage. The bass drum took centre stage and the drummer was magnificent.

Before you ask, Fatih is the name of this part of Istanbul and Belediyesi is the equivalent of the local municipal council. Council officials came by checking up on steet vendors and other things every so often. This is how they get around. You stand up on it, like a Segway. Beats walking.

It was a hot day and I was pleased when a man came by selling bottled water. He was followed by another man selling bread rolls, which he carried on a pole.
bread and toffee (I think)

I never did identify this - it was wound and stretched like old-fashioned candy and that's probably what it was, but I wasn't brave enough to try any. This is in a park above the Basilica Cistern and I think the wall might be a remnant of the original basilica.
The little stand is very light, and a few minutes later he folded it up and moved off to another location. I became fascinated by these strolling street vendors, who are everywhere, so began photographing some of them.

bread sticks and pretzels


kebabs while you wait

nectarines - and he really was wheeling this big
barrow around the Bazaar

more kebabs

roasted chestnuts and corn - also roasted. Yum.
 There were several men selling apples and cucumbers, peeled and ready to eat.

 This is a handy gadget that, with a few turns of the handle, peels and cores your apple and cuts it into a neat spiral. My friend was fascinated - "Forget the apple" she said "I want one of those things!" Immediately a little man materialised beside her with a brand new apple-peeler in a box for 85 Turkish Lira. Be very careful what you wish for in Istanbul.

freshly squeezed fruit juice

 Every afternoon an impromptu market appeared in Beyazit Square, in front of the Istanbul University. Sometimes the police came by and it all vanished until they went away again. Here is another person selling cold drinks from an elaborate flask on his back.

I was going to include markets in this blog entry, but it got too big so I'll finish up with a couple of nice evening shots at Eminonu.

Next entry: The Grand Bazaar. And other things.

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