I was in a town today that I am not familiar with and decided to hop on a bus that was going to Mecediyeköy— not knowing where exactly Mecediyeköy is. I figured it would put me in the general direction of downtown Istanbul. I rode the bus to the end of the line and got off without recognising where I was at all. The bus shelters read "Mecediyeköy" so I thought, well at least I'm in the right place! I figured if I followed the crowd of people walking from the bus stop, I'd end up at a central area at some point. I had an iPod full of music, a gorgeous sunny day— there was no better time to get lost.
When the road I was on ran into Büyükdere Caddesi, the road where I saw the Atatürk Muzesi the other day, I was excited. I followed Büyükdere Caddesi intending to visiting the museum, but when I tried to take a picture of some people on the street, my camera battery died. I had planned on taking lots of photos inside the museum when I visited it, so I decided instead to keep walking and see where I'd end up. The weather really was wonderful.
I walked past Cevahir, Europe's largest mall— apparently there's a small rollercoaster inside along with the largest clock in the world. I am seldom in the mood for a mall, so I continued all the way down to a street called Rumeli Caddesi, which is a great place to visit for deals on clothes. I hopped on the metro at a station called Osmanbey and went to Taksim to try and find an area called Cihangir, that I hear is something to be seen.
Cihangir is indeed lovely— charming sidewalk cafés abound with one of the most beautiful views in the city, as Cihangir is on one of Istanbul's highest hills. It is considered a Bohemian and intellectual neighbourhood, compared to New York's East Village by some. I can't wait to go back and sit in one of those cafés and draw.
Continuing down the same street, I suddenly saw Topkapi in the distance and knew where I was. I walked down to the water and ended up right by Istanbul Modern, Istanbul's modern art museum, which houses a fantastic collection of Turkish contemporary artwork. There's a lovely mosque in front of the museum, Nusretiye Camii, that I decided to sketch. As I sat down on a short wall on the side of the road, a kind-faced old man started speaking to me and I actually understood him! Of course I didn't know what to say back except "hello" and "ok"— merhaba and tamam. He had been walking for a while and was tired, seeing me sitting on the side of the road made him want to sit down for a rest. We sat together for a while, I sketched and he thumbed his black and white worry beads. Then he got up and wished me a happy day.
Kabataş is one of the many ferry hubs in Istanbul. I absolutely love ferry rides— if I could take a ferry boat everywhere, I would. Conveniently, ferry boat is feribot in Turkish, so I was able to ask the İskele (port or quay) ticket man if there was a boat headed towards my town. Not only was there a boat headed there, there was one leaving in five minutes. A Bosphorus boat trip is one of the most magnificent ways to see the Istanbul. As the sun was colouring the sky orange, we passed by Dolmabahçe— which looks even more massive from the water— cruised by Rumeli Hisarı fortress and enormous cargo ships coming from the Black Sea. This is the only way see all the old wooden coastal houses that you can't see from the road. If you are ever in Istanbul, a boat tour is a must. It was a terrific way to end the day.
Please click on the images to see them larger.