Living in Istanbul

It has been over a month since I last posted. A month full of things to say, full of pictures, stories, a couple of weekend trips and even a couple of blog awards (that I have not forgotten). With so many things happening I don’t even know where to start.

I have now settle for over a month in my new flat – after a couple of bad house experiences I am really glad I found this place.

My time here in Istanbul is flying and I have been trying to enjoy it the best I can – I would say very successfully. The longer I stay, the more people I meet and the more I hear, the more fascinated I am with this city.

Istanbul's rooftop

Istanbul’s rooftop

 

When I first arrived I was just slightly disappointed of how european the city felt. I expected being overwhelmed with this place, I hoped for an explosion of smells, sounds and colours – I imagined Istanbul as an exotic oriental place. And as soon as I arrived I was treated to an european city with an oriental touch. It was really beautiful, it was really special – simply not what I expected.

And then I started to notice a few different things. Contrary to most experiences on a different country – where you first can tell all the differences – I first could only see the resemblances. But then as you start to notice the similarities on said experience – I started to understand how different it truly is around here. And by now I can tell the amazing distinctive qualities of this city – but also a few bad ones.

 

When I first moved in to my first house here, the landlady was easy-going and friendly. But then, even after we talked about it, we were not allowed to have guests. For me it is very important to be able to have guests. I want to invite all my friends and family to visit me, and I want to be able to give them a place to stay. And so that meant I had to move.

While I now that this could have happened everywhere in the world,  here I have heard many stories like this. Too many way worse than mine. I mean landlords calling every time a boy enter the house and charging for every visitor as well. And other weird situations.

Narguille

Smoking Narguille

Now a new law is coming out that prohibits girls and boys to share the same flat. It is still legal, but around the same time Turkey restarted the conversations to get into the EU, Erdogan publicly announced that neighbours should report if they knew students of different genres were sharing a flat.

The turkish mentality is still very male oriented – and while that means guys will give you the seat on the bus most of the time, it also means that you will hear college educated young men saying that a woman should be able to cook to find a husband. And you know how important it is to find a husband.

Of course this doesn’t mean everybody thinks like that. I have many turkish friends by now – all very kind and opened minded.   They all are just as shocked as I am with this kind of attitudes and they too represent a big side of Turkey. But for me it was a bit of a surprise to see this happening in Istanbul.

DSC_0990

And then we have the good part of the differences between Turkey and other places.

Where I live – a slightly more traditional neighbourhood – and usually around the older parts of town there is one incredible thing: old women living in upper floors have a basket held by some ropes. Every once in a while you will see the basket coming down and then some yelling down stairs, either to some kids or to some store owner. They will send the money down in the basket and the person will buy and bring them whatever they were asking for – usually groceries. Once I was the person called for to put a shirt on the basket – it had fallen from the third floor as she was putting it out to dry.

I don’t think this would last long in Portugal as a lot of kids would be thrilled to run with the money with no intention of doing some old lady a favor.

Grand Bazaar Istanbul

The same trust system happens in the mini-buses, a private company of buses where no one will ask you for money. You can get in and out without paying  and  no one will tell you anything. But everyone pays – if you are in the first seats expect to be handed all the money from the back to give to the driver.

If you need help to get somewhere even without speaking a work of english most people around here will get out of their way to help you. And the famous Turkish hospitality is far from being a myth – I will later on write about Bayram – where we were welcomed by a turkish family to see the sacrifice. And that is not the only example of the kindness of most Turkish people.

Before I came here many times I heard Istanbul being the point where east meets west. When I got here I didn’t understand what that meant. It took me a while before it started to make sence – but contrary to all my expectations I found that this mix can only truly be found in the details. It requires a second, more attentive look. So even if Istanbul is not what I expected, what I imagined it is definitely even better than I could think of – and more than ever I am truly happy to have chosen such a distinctive city!

For now I can only promise that it will not take another month to post again – the pictures are coming.

– Carlota

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18 responses to “Living in Istanbul

  1. As exotic and exciting Istanbul and turkey is I doubt this country will ever be part of the EU. and I am actually very hhappy about that! For how long are you going to stay? 🙂

    • Hi Suze! Thank you so much for the comment! I know it has been a very long time, but better late then neve 😛 I was in Istanbul for alms 6 months! and now been back for two months!
      I don’t know if Turkey will ever be part of the european union, but I hope it gets there as I found it to be a great country with a lot of opportunities! Still I agree that the political situation is not the best, but I hope that someday it will be good enough to be part of the EU! 🙂

  2. Your stories are absolutely fascinating to me. I love the basket idea, and the trust factor that goes along with it. Thank you for the update. I look forward to many more experiences!

    • Thank you so much for your kind comment Hope, and I am sorry for taking so long to answer
      Still it is always a pleasure to read such nice compliments 🙂

  3. yes, how long are you staying there? what are you doing there? Just getting some experience? Would love to see more pictures and hear more stories like these! :)))

    • Hi there, I was there for about six months doing erasmus – a university exchange program! I am glad you enjoyed my post – I hope to have some more coming in soon 😉

  4. So glad you’re posting again. You drew us such a vivid picture of your life in Istanbul. It’s like I have lived those months with you. It isn’t just a few highlights, you’ve explained things so well. Love it!

    • I am sorry for taking so long replying! And especially for not posting again since then! Thank you so much for your very very king comment! I am glad you have enjoyed my posts! Hopefully there will more soon! 😀

    • Hey Dana! Thank you for you comment! Sorry for the long delay in responding and posting! I hope to be back on the right track soon enough 😛

    • Hey Noelle! Thank you for the comment! I was ther for about 6 months since september! I am sorry for taking so long to reply and also to post! Still I truly appreciate all the comments 😀

  5. Really interesting to read your impressions. Regarding the woman’s place being in the kitchen, many countries are still working towards the new reality. Come to think of it, I even know men here who still think that’s the best place for them!

    • Hi there! Thank you so much for the comment! And I appologise for taking so long to answer and post here!
      That is very true, unfortunately even in the so called developed world we still struggle more as women than men, but it is still sad to see it to such extreme in other places.

    • Istanbul does represent some challenges – but I have to admit it grew to become one of my favorite cities in the world and I think I will always have a sod spot for the city heheh 🙂 Thank you for reading 🙂

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