April 14, 2012
This post features the ‘Streets & Faces’ of Istanbul. No real theme or story in this post, just my capture of everyday life in Istanbul. This place is a heaven for photogs. Most people are ok with having cameras pointed at them. Some even insist that you take a picture. I got yelled at just once; that photo is here in this post – wanna take a guess?
Most of the photographs were taken using the Carl Zeiss 35mm 1.4. After a lot of thinking, I decided to haul this heavy, ‘manual focus only’ lens all the way to Istanbul. It was a risk – I knew that if a shot got messed up, I didn’t have the luxury to go back and re-shoot it. All said and done, I am glad I used this lens. I got used to the manual focusing quite fast. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. I love the sharpness and the richness of the photos. I rented it from Borrowlenses.com.
April 9, 2012
Featured in today’s post are two of Istanbul bazaars – The Grand Bazaar and the Egyptian Spice Market.
With almost 4000 shops operating in it, the Grand Bazaar is truly grand. Right from 5th generation carpet sellers to shops selling ‘Nike’ and ‘Adidas’ for $10, leather goods, ceramics, jewellery – you get everything. One interesting thing I saw was shopkeepers placing coffee and tea orders over wireless handsets. And it is not just shops, there are mosques, restaurants and cafes too
The Egyptian spice market is a smaller bazaar, with mostly spice shops. The by lanes surrounding this bazaar is where the real action is. This is where we found the locals shopping for furniture, clothes, kitchen goods, cheese, olives, pickles, cured meats and so on. We also visited the Rustem Pasha mosque along the way. It is not very big or grand like the Blue mosque, but the Iznik tiles in here are beautiful and exquisite.
This is Şark Kahvesi. A cafe inside the Grand Bazaar. A good place to rest your tired legs after all the walking and bargaining and yes they make good coffee and tea..:)
April 7, 2012
Featured in this post is the Asian side of Istanbul – the not so touristy side of Istanbul. We started by walking to the Galata bridge to see the numerous fishermen who turn up there every day. We got some simit (sesame bread rings) from one of the many simit carts and got onto a ferry to Kadıköy. In a short 20 minutes, we travelled from Europe to Asia ☺
The sights and sound in Kadıköy were very vibrant and different from those in Sultanahmet. No more tour buses, just Istanbullus going about their busy lives. It was an insightful glimpse into the regular life of an Istanbul city dweller.
Kadıköy is known to be artsy, hip, have good cafes and is also home to Istanbul’s ‘Rodeo Drive’.
We stopped for lunch at Ciya Sofrasi and enjoyed a few kebaps and mezze platter. Some of the other dishes like intestines stuffed with rice and nuts didn’t exactly appeal to our palates. It is definitely an acquired taste. The grape leaf dolmas and stuffed eggplant and peppers were excellent.
As we walked along the side streets, we saw a tiny little door with a picture of beautiful garden cafe. Since our Turkish ain’t any good to be asking questions, we peeped inside to see if that seedy looking tiny door really did lead to a garden café. It sure did – it was a tea/coffee/hookah café set in a beautiful outdoor garden, with free WiFi, no less! We rested our tired legs and played a few rounds of Scrabble over cups of Turkish coffee and tea.
We then traced our way back to the Kadıköy docks and walked along the shoreline to the beautiful Haydarpasha station. After spending a few minutes there, we got back onto the continent hopping ferry.
Back in Sultanahmet, we spend some time near the Galata bridge, watching locals spend their Sunday evening. We got some balik ekmek from the sandwich boats. It is just a simple sandwich – grilled fish stuffed into half a loaf of bread, with a heap of lettuce thrown in. Salt and lemon juice is set up on little tables outside. The locals enjoy it with pickles in a ruby red pickle juice. It’s interesting to watch the sandwich guys man the grill and hand over the sandwiches, while the boat itself is swaying wildly.
April 5, 2012
When I first told my friends and family, that we are planning a trip to Istanbul, many asked us Why Istanbul, What’s there is Istanbul, Why don’t you go to Europe? etc…I tried to answer, but don’t think I was able to convince many. I hope this series of pictures will do a better job of it. I tried to capture and convey my love for this exotic city, its beautiful and friendly people, its awe inspiring monuments and the delicious food available at each and every corner. Istanbul is truly a great city, where the old and the new co-exist, with a unique character of its own.
This post has pictures of the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque – two of the most recognized monuments of Istanbul. Will post more in coming days.
Hagia Sophia used to be an Orthodox church, later a mosque and now a museum. When we saw the serpentine queue for the tickets, we hoped it wasn’t just an overpriced tourist trap. It was anything but that. The ambience in there was beautiful in spite of the hordes of tourists.
Blue Mosque is just across the Hagia Sophia and a fully functioning mosque. It’s known as the Blue Mosque because of the beautiful Iznik blue tiles that adorn the interior.