Istanbul, Part 2

My apologies for the many blurry photos. Autofocus seems to be letting me down. But. This is my take on what I see here.

Turkey is going through a difficult time right now. But the founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk, and the values he represents — fair treatment and equality for all, openness to the world and to new ideas — are widely admired, even though they are, at present, under attack. Many expats are returning to their native countries and many educated Turkish people, the ones who should be able to make a good life here, are emigrating. However I think, or maybe just hope, that those who choose to stay will be able to turn things around.

I am seeing plenty of wonderful things. As is the case most everywhere, traditional skills are being lost. However some people are learning to package and market those skills and items as luxury goods. The photos that follow are an assortment of things seen on my way around town: items lost or in need of rescue and those that have been rescued or fully transformed.

Turkish food is still quite seasonal. These summer fruits and vegetables have been pickled to preserve them for the winter. This shop sells to locals, but in fancier neighborhoods you will find similar items in smaller jars with pretty labels and much higher prices. I wonder which is better positioned to withstand increases in rent and labor costs.

They eat every part of an animal here. This man is cleaning a lamb’s head.

Coffee needs no introduction. Istanbul has many artisan roasters. The man in the photo below makes simit, a round bread something vaguely like a bagel.

The arts are down, but not out. Here you see a used bookstore, a street musician and a truly lovely infill building. Long may it remain untagged.

Here are a few more places that are holding on. Istanbul is an absolute bargain destination right now and quite safe. It’s easy to get a table in some delightful places.

And that is it. I’ll be here for a few more days and I surely will return.

7 thoughts on “Istanbul, Part 2

  1. The photos capture the spirit, and as I am half blind I can’t even tell which are fuzzy.
    The infill building is really tasteful. Some stick out so hideously, but this one works.

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  2. It is lovely to see these snapshots of a City I am ashamed to say I have never visited (three of my four daughters have been there and I keep saying I must) …. you inspire me to stop talking and get doing. I know the people need all the help they can get from good advocates and I am sure will thank you for getting the word out and hopefully getting many eager biters like me 🙂

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    1. Oh, it’s wonderful! I get nothing for recommending these places, but they are all great. I’m staying at the Ibrahim Pasha Hotel. The Empress Zoe is also a delight. I buy more organic, hand-loomed cotton towels than is good for me at Jennifer’s Hamam. I took a cooking class from Cooking Alaturca and a walking tour from Culinary Backstreets. PM me and I’ll bore you to death with recommendations.

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    1. They’re screwed, plain and simple. What about the journalists who have been jailed, at least one for life, simply for following what, in Europe and the States, are standard journalistic practices? What about the persecution of the Kurds? I referred to it as what, a difficult time? Something like that. Sometime over drinks I’d be happy to get into the problems here. In fact, you might have a hard time stopping me. For the purposes of my blog, I chose to gloss over all that, for many reasons. One is that I can’t add anything to the discussion. Another is that I think it is important to focus on what of value survives in times like these. I am not a journalist, nor am I engaged in diplomacy, the defense industry or any sort of major trade deal. What I can do is support people whose values align with mine by doing my best to buy from them. Wherever I am, not just in Istanbul, I seek out small businesses who operate in an ethical fashion. In Istanbul they are pretty hard hit, right now. It’s a small act of resistance, to be sure, but if people who travel here stay in privately owned hotels and look for the « good » shops, restaurants and tour guides, those people have a shot at surviving until things improve.


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