is the covered street on the right just before you get to Galatasaray Lise.
This is a good place to buy difficult to find foods such as duck, prawns and so
on. While the prices in the market here are higher than most other places in
Istanbul, the quality of the fish and vegetables here is some of the best. As
this is so centrally located, it is a convenient place to get things like dried
mushrooms and so on. Branching off to the right halfway down the pasaj is
Nevizade Sokak, a street lined with mehanes with tables set out on the
pavement. In summer this is an excellent place to spend an evening with
friends drinking raki and eating meze under grape trellises. It can get very
crowded here around nine p.m.
is on Hamalbasi Caddesi, parallel and very close to Balik Pasaj. For
afficianados of Turkish pop culture, this is a good place to browse through
used book stalls, junk shops selling old arabesque film posters, postcards and
photos from bygone eras and so on. A few stalls have limited collections of
English language books at reasonable prices.
if you can force your way into it, is a very good place to look for export
second clothing. The prices here are unbeatable, but the crowd in the narrow
alley ploughing through the chaotic piles of garments on the tables is so thick
it is sometimes impossible to even enter much less make your way to the back
where the real bargains are. Terkoz is on the right as you approach the Tunel
end of Istiklal. Just look for the alley packed with women fighting over
Away from Istiklal
on the Bosphorous is where the Russian and other cruise ships dock. While
this area is a good place to buy the sorts of things Russian smugglers are
interested in (i.e. dishes, cheap furniture, biscuits etc.) there is not much
of interest here other than Kilic Ali Pass Hammam, perhaps the best Turkish
bath in Istanbul. The bath is not at all touristy like those in Sultanahmet or
Galatasaray are, and the use of the bath is about $3 dollars. You must speak
at least some Turkish to manage here, but it is well worth it. The bath is
some three hundred years old (its outer dome is sprouting moss and ferns) and
is never crowded. It is directly across from the miserable Tophane park behind
the BP station.
is the a ferry terminus with seabus as well as ferry connections to Kadikoy
and Haydarpasa. In the alleys behind the waterfront are numerous shops which
sell all sorts of electronic components, tiny switches, capacitors, cables etc.
More interesting is the fish market on the wharf to the left of the ferry
terminal. This is the cheapest place in town to buy fresh fish, and as prices
for fish in Istanbul are exorbitant, the values are really stunning. Go early
in the day as no one has refrigeration.
is about a kilometer up from Tophane and is another ferry terminus. From here
you can get ferries to Uskudar as well as ferries to the Princes Islands and to
Yalova near Bursa. Seabuses also leave from here.
is down the hill on the side of the Golden Horn. There is nothing all that
interesting here, but there are a number of cheap, clean hotels here which are
excellent values considering their location. Accomodation at places like the
can be got for as little as $5 a night.
Going north from Beyoglu along the Bosphorous the next district encountered in
Besiktas. While not so interesting as the other districts, Besiktas is easy to
manage. The people here are mostly on the left or at least secular and middle
class, and there is no hassle here at all. It is a good place for shopping in
general and one of Istanbul's major communication centres.
From the Iskeli, ferries cross regularly to Uskudar and Kadikoy. Right next to
the Iskeli are the local bus terminals. Buses to almost every part of Istanbul
including Anatolian Istanbul leave from here. Across the costal road to the
right is the municipal vegetable market which sells high quality produce at
good prices. Back in the streets to the left are shops selling clothing, the
sort of stuff which appeals to students. There are a good number of private
schools (dershane) in the area as well. Up Barbaros Bulvari a hundred and
fifty meters is Computer Time where you can by most of the parts you need for
your computer for reasonable prices. Back in the shopping section is an
overpriced fish market.
is a pretty neigborhood about three km north from the centre of Besiktas. It
has some lovely restored Ottoman buildings and a pretty little mosque on the
sea side, built by an Armenian architect around 1890. However pleasant Ortakoy
is to look at, it is an obnoxious place with snooty trendy rich kids strutting
around and overpriced restaurants with bad food. Everyone has attitude here.
Who needs it?
is a pretty area further up from Ortakoy with some good examples of the old
wooden Black Sea houses and some reasonable places to have breakfast. There is
also a good deal of the same Ortakoy crowd here in the evenings.
is the old home for Istanbul's mafia and many expats. The only good thing to
say about Bebek is that you can get to Anadolu Hisar by hourly ferry boat from
here. There is a park where you can sit and watch Philippina maids take
squalling brats to McDonalds and see gangster's molls walking yappy little dogs.
Sariyer is the last district going north on the Thracian side. It runs all the
way up to the Black Sea including the fortress at Anadolu Kavagi. Until
recently Sariyer was heavily wooded and mostly rural, but now it is one of the
(shanty town) areas in Istanbul. It also has some truly monstrous areas of
American style glass-and-concrete office towers set in fields of mud and
rubble. For the most part the population are recent immigrants from the
Eastern Black Sea region, chiefly Rize and Ordu and they tend to be fairly
conservative in the village sort of way. There are also a lot of fascists here
which makes things a bit nervy if you know what is going on. The upshot of
this is that, besides the coast, there is little of interest to most foreigners
in Sariyer, and it is a long way from Taksim.
is really one of the nicest places in Istanbul. Here the channel runs very
close into shore and so the ships pass by right in front of you, as big as
life, only bigger. To the right of the castle along the road are a number of
good places to get breakfast and tea to accompany the parade of vessels on the
water. A great place to begin a lazy morning.
is a nice, quiet seaside suburb north of Rumeli Hisar, and it is where some of
the richer people like the Sabanci live. There is a very pleasant tea garden
near the bus stop where the rattle of backgammon dice can be heard from dawn to
Only about 5% of Turkey lies on the European continent, much of this area beng taken up by Istanbu's srawling Western suburbs. Strangely, even though rural Trakya is so close to Istanbul, it ahs some areas of surpising natural beauty; unspoilt beaches, green forests, quiet lakes and forgotten ruins in addition to the shithole concrete towns and tangled mess of motorways.
Trakya is also where the frontiers with Greece and Bulgaria are, and if you are crossing through to or from these countries you will have to pass through Trakya.
Edirne is a frontier city only a few kilometers from Bulgaria and Greece. This was not always the case (Edirne was once the capital of the Ottoman Empire) but politics have a funny way of influencing geography. While Edirne has an excellent assortment of Ottoman mosques, bedestens and so on, it is really just a very large truck stop sitting as it does on the main land communications route to Europe.
Getting to Bulgaria from Edirne is simple. The cheapest route is simply to take a dolmus from the centre to Kapikule and then just walk into Bulgaria. On the Bulgarian side there are taxis to Svilingrad where you can get a train or a bus to points West and North. From the otogar in Edirne you can get a bus to Sofia, Burgas or Plovdiv and two trains a day go to Bulgaria (one to Sofia and one to Velinko Tarnovo), but this method is slower and more expensive than just doing it yourself.
Getting to Greece is another story. Due to the perpetual hostile diplomatic relations between Turkey and Greece, walking across is not permitted. The frontier is heavily fortified and most likely heavily mined. A night train leaves from Sirkeci station in Istanbul on to Salonika in Greece passing through Edirne in the early hours of the morning. Busses leave from various places in Istanbul like Aksaray, but there are not as many of them as you might expect. Coming the other way from Greece is much more difficult. Your best bet may just be to show up at the crossing and hitch.
Kiyikoy is an old walled Black Sea town about three hours journey west from Istanbul, but it might seem more like thirty as isolated and uncorrupted as this place is. Kiyikoy has the advantage of being at the end of some bad roads and there is no road along the coast for some sixty kilometres in this part of the Black Sea. This means the beaches on both sides of Kiyikoy are imaculate, unspoilt and empty. Camping on the beach or in the forests behind the beach is a simple process of walking until you find an appropriate spot.
The town itself has a village atmosphere with flocks of sheep being herded through the street and tractors parked in front of shops. There are some cheap restaurants and tea houses here and some nice, but over priced pansiyons (about $15 a night). It is very calm and quiet. Kiyikoy has yet to be hit with the sort of swarming concrete development which has devastated the Aegean and Mediterranean areas.
To get to Kiyikoy by bus you need first to get a bus from the Bayrampasa otogar in Istanbul to Cerkezkoy or Saray. From Saray Kiyikoy Belediye busses leave hourly for Kiyikoy, but they stope running around dark. Hitching from Saray is very easy once you find the right road.
The Sea of Marmara has an ancient history, but it's modern function is primarily to be the cesspool for Istanbul, Izmit and Bursa. More than twenty million people live around this small inland sea and two thirds of Turkey's industry is here. So don't eat the fish, even though they all say its from the Black Sea.
That said, there are some good places here which you should visit. The Marmara islands are beautiful, seldom visited by foreigners and cheap. Bursa and Canakkale are easer to get to than the islands and offer some interesting distractions.
All the English speaking Turks speak with a broad Australian accent here which can be very disconcerting. The reason is that across the Straites are the Galipoli battlefields and it is a major pilgrimige site for Autralian and New Zealand tourists. But don't let this get you down: Canakkale is also the gateway to the North Aegean region.
The town itself is on the East side of the Dardanelles a bit down from the Narrows. It has been a major strategic place for thousands of years and evidence of fortifications from dozens of civilisations litter the area including the disappointing ruins of Troy. Most of the accomodation is near the clocktower about two blocks from the ferry landing. If you go back from there, cheap eateries abound in the market area. A good cheap place to stay is the Kervansaray where beds can be found for around $3 a night.
South from Canakkale are some of the most impressive olive growing regions in Turkey and the coast here is not all that spoilt yet. You can take a local bus to Geyikli which is a nice little Aegean town with a pleasant square and street cafes, and from there hitch farther in. Close to Geyikli is Odun Iskelisi where ferries leave three times a day for the lovely vinyard covered island of Bozcaadi. Bozcaada is a good place to camp on the beach and get blind on the local wine, but there is little cover on the island and you are likely to fry in the sun.