Jun 6, 2013

Istanbul - A trip to the neighbors (Part 2)

During the past night, a rather substantial rain poured down, but in the morning the sun has already found its place on the sky and has chased away most of the clouds. While my fellow-travelers are still getting ready, I conduct my photo observation of the streets from above. I like quite much to observe from a high point, people on the streets are very natural, because they don't see me and therefore are not camera shy, besides that the point of view is completely different.
Waiting for the 24A bus to Eminönü, for example
A beam of light during the repairs, hopefully it will start
Compared to Bulgaria, at a certain point there were four guys under the hood trying to fix it and just one looking from a distance.

The side streets represent another interesting point of view.
Tin vents vs. Ivy
Which one will get higher or lower?

While we are trying to figure out how the cards for the public transport work, an elder couple asks us in Bulgarian whether we need help. We accept happily their assistance and they take us to the other side of the boulevard to buy a prepaid card. While we go through the underpass, going down and up the stairs because of us, they ask us whether we like the city. They like it too, but it's nice as long as you are visiting, otherwise it is a bit crazy and it's rather expensive to live here. I don't remember from which Bulgarian area or city they are coming from (as they are emigrants from Bulgaria), but I will never forget how much they had to go out of their way just to help us. And although the sun is already heating our heads, it was their help that warmed us.

Already having bought a prepaid card, we embark on a big adventure with the different varieties of the local public transport. We get on the T1 tram from the Pazarteke station and go for 15-16 stops. At Kabatas station we transfer to the F1 funicular (a train/tram that can climb some serious slopes), which I expect with almost child excitement, imagining an interesting trip and views, but my child dreams instantly disappear as it is traveling underground. At least the transport now is for free as it is the first day of school in Turkey. At the Taksim station we hop on the M2 subway to Sisli Mecidiyeköy (I cannot pronounce this name). I forgot to mention that the purpose of this exercise is not to use every possible type of public transport, but to get to the Yildiz park, situated between the Besiktas and Ortaköy neighborhoods, or in one of them.

We get off the metro and take upon the goat paths of Besiktas, this is the best way to describe these steep and narrow streets, which are probably similar to those in San Francisco. While walking on one of the few leveled streets, the rain starts pouring again and we quickly find a small café for our first cup of tea/coffee and something sweet. Soon the rain calms down and once again we take on the goat paths. We ask some people about Yildiz parki, trying to be as precise as possible of the pronunciation, but they hardly could understand us. After a moment or two, the guys repeat the words as I have pronounced them and give us directions. We have several kilometers. We walk, and walk, and walk, moreover we are going down from a mountain. We reach one seaside boulevard and stop for a break. We have another kilometer or two ahead of us, but at least the terrain is flat. I cannot answer the question why we didn't take a taxi. When thinking about this park, a famous fable comes to my mind, one about a fox and some grapes that are sour.
The goat paths of Besiktas
The Asian Istanbul and the Maiden's tower
Seaside tunnel of leaning trees
In the leaning tunnel

Unlike me my comrades-in-arms, which also look that they had enough of walking, seem to be resolved to try all means to get to the park in question, for which they have no info whatsoever. With such loyal supporters one can even go to … the Yildiz park. We reach our first destination, but the fun is never ending – we are at the lower end of the park, now we have to go up. But that's enough about our trip, let me tell you something about our destination – when the sultans were living in the nearby palace, they were coming to this park for a walk or to hunt deer. The phone guide warns us not to be startled by the courting couple coming out of the bushes, probably they have been hunting deer or have been collecting mushrooms. The park is very well maintained with perfect lawns, benches and playgrounds or at least on the left side of the main alley, because the right side has grown rather wild. We find a flower-bed with close to ten stray dogs sleeping on it, probably they have grown after this night's rain. We borrow our heads to one headless giraffe, at least we haven't lost our sense of humor somewhere on the goat paths. 
The headless giraffe
The hobbit tree

We find one enormous oak tree, from which is completely normal to come out not some courting couples, but rather some real hobbits. While we settle on its branches for a photo, some other people come wishing to have a picture with the tree. A bride and a groom, and their entourage. We get off the tree and find a Garfield looking cat next to the nearby bridge.
Garfield and the caressing one 1
Garfield and the caressing one 2
Garfield thinks that my caressing might be better.
Garfield and the caressing one 3
Moment of hesitation.
Garfield and the caressing on4
Since the tail is erected and the eyes are blissfully closedit is clear who caresses better.
Garfield looking for the caressing one
Gimme some more.

We continue with the walk around a nice lake and find a pleasant lawn for a break and some photos.
One cheeky couple courting directly on the alley
The entrance/exit of the park

We take again the seaside boulevard backwards to some restaurants we saw earlier, since we are hungry from the long walk we are having today. There will be a football game, because there are quite many fans of Besiktas around the restaurants in question. Still there is lots of time till the start of the game, since the fans are all normal and sober.
The staircase cafe
The tables are positioned on the staircase, as is the menu.
A fan, who is not a fan at all
A cat in the colors of Besiktas is not interested in football at all.
Fans are warming up

We have some delicious döners and rest a bit, till the food settles in at our love handles or other fat depots. As we have walked enough and don't want to know how far is Taksim square by foot, we ask the locals where and which bus should we take. After some corrections of the bus stations and the explicit question "Will this bus take us to Taksim square?", we get on the public transport pointed out to us. We go around Besiktas stadium and I manage to recognize the place from 11-12 years ago, when I was in Istanbul for the first and last time. The road goes uphill and if there is enough traffic one can watch the game, if he/she is on the right side of the bus. We reach the square and having seen how many buses there are, I think we were going to get here no matter which bus we got on.
Meet me next to the buses at Taksim square
Taksim square
The nostalgic tram Taksim-Tünel

Our trip continues with a ride on the nostalgic tram (our trip today is getting lazier and lazier) from Taksim to Tünel station, where we should get on another funicular. The tram goes on the otherwise pedestrian Istiklal street.
The beginning of our nostalgic trip
In the overcrowded street
One of the many side streets of Istiklal
The gates of the prestigious Galatasaray high school/lyceum
Street belly dancer or something similar
Street musicians

We get off at Tünel station and I cannot remember whether we decide to go for a walk or think that the funicular in question is in the opposite direction, but we go backwards toward Taksim square.
Istiklal and its visitors/inhabitants 1
A tile worker or an artist among the tourists.
Istiklal and its visitors/inhabitants 2
Istiklal and its visitors/inhabitants 3
Seller of chestnuts.
Istiklal and its visitors/inhabitants 4
Street musicians and their audience.

At some point I feel that soon we will reach Taksim square, that's why we turn back the direction once more, towards the Tünel station and supposedly to the funicular. At least, there are so many stores, people, embassies and what not at Istiklal, that no matter how many time you walk there you will always find something interesting.
Istiklal and its visitors/inhabitants 5
Seller of the so delicious sesame rings called simids.
Istiklal and its visitors/inhabitants 6
Somebody's bike.
Istiklal and its visitors/inhabitants 7
Somebody's wife.
The Catholic church of St. Antoine from Padua
Accidentally, we stumble upon this huge Catholic church.
Istiklal and its visitors/inhabitants 8
Also accidentally, we come across some demonstrators protesting against unknown what.
Istiklal and its visitors/inhabitants 9
Soon we come across the keepers of the law.

As we have reached the Galatasaray lyceum, which is way back and I'm not sure where the funicular in question suppose to be, we decide to have a rest at a café. By the way, I think it is time to rename the Tünerl-Karaköy funicular to the Funicular in question.
Istiklal and its visitors/inhabitants 10
Thousands of Istiklal visitors from my favorite point of view – from above.

Having rested, but already rather tired, we decide to go back, sorry, I'm not sure where is back anymore, we decide to go to Tünel station, where we got off the tram and to continue to the Galata tower, to have a look at the city from where, from above. One way or another, the visit of the tower is included in today's plan, so with or without the Funicular in question we will see it.
Light at the end of one of Istiklal's side streets
Is this a shortcut to the Funicular in question?
Istiklal and its visitors/inhabitants 11
Relax, this is not the Funicular in question.
Istiklal and its visitors/inhabitants 12
Neither is this.
One of the musical instrument shops on Galip Dede str.
And the Joker smoking a hooka.
Galip Dede str.
A train of taxies
It's on Galip Dede str., of course.

We get to the Galata tower, but it is already closed for visitors, so we are not able to have a look at the city from today's most favorite point of view.
Galata Tower 1
Galata Tower 2
Around the tower
The tower is a popular meeting or hanging out place not just for the tourists, but for the locals as well.
A large flag of Galatasaray football club and probably two of its fans

We reach the nearby Galata Bridge (we are in the Galatasaray neighborhood) with its colorful and mainly fish restaurants and the many fishermen. We cross the bridge and hop on the T1 tram, which unlike the Funicular in question, is where it should be and takes us to the so wished for rest.
The Galata Bridge and its many restaurants
The fishermen of Galata Bridge 1
There isn't a lack of enthusiasts, no matter what the weather and the conditions are like.
The fishermen of Galata Bridge 2
Beer and a fishing rod – what else does one fisherman need. OK, a puddle as well.
A view of the Bosphorus Bridge
The first bridge on the Bosphorus, completed in 1973 and 1,560 m long (almost a mile).
The fishermen of Galata Bridge 3
Open air fishing stuff store.
The fishermen of Galata Bridge 4
A view towards the New Mosque.
The Galata Bridge from the other side
A fish sandwiches stall

Some interesting wiki facts about the Bosphorus – one of the theories about its creation states that 7,500 years ago, when the glaciers started melting, the level of the Mediterranean/Marmara sea sharply rose over a period of several days and the water made its way toward Black sea, which at the time might have been a drainless sweet water basin; there are two currents – a surface one, in which the water flows from the Black toward the Marmara sea, and a deep one, which flows in the opposite direction.

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