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Ref: Istanbul
1.       juliacernat
424 posts
 08 Mar 2007 Thu 11:51 pm

A bridge too far: Just how far is too far in İstanbul?

"How do we measure distances in a city sprawling across hills, bodies of water and embracing two continents?

Do we measure by kilometers, or by how many minutes or even hours it will take to get from point A to point B? How do we decide when someplace is too far away?

Many people, I have found, consider the Bosporus to be a major qualifier of too far a distance. Those of us who happily reside on the Asian side find this to be a bit of a quandary. Friends from the European side often feel we live just too far away to easily visit.

Thinking it might be just my friends who didn’t want to cross the water, I queried other expats living on the Asian side about the reactions they get when inviting people to “the other side.” What, I wondered, was the response they received when they told people where they lived? My question was received with whoops of laughter as they related some of the common responses from European side friends.

“Oh my God! You actually live way over there?”

“What do you do when you want to go out for the evening -- come to our side?”

“We have so many great restaurants on this side, why don’t you head over here and we can eat someplace nice?”

“You want me to take a ferry to your side? Are you kidding?”

Why is a rush hour trip between Beyazıt and Taksim doable (provided you have the Sunday New York Times to read through on the trip), but a jaunt across the Bosporus is unthinkable for many? Do the bridges represent entry into some strange, oriental world? Is there something about crossing a body of water that automatically turns a short hop into a trek? True, the bridges are a horror at rush hour, but the rest of the day it’s smooth sailing over them. It’s even smoother sailing under them if you’re inclined to use the ferries.

Why must the Asian side resign itself to being considered the hinterlands of Istanbul? We have excellent restaurants, lively nightlife, miles of waterfront parks and shopping galore. The European side may have Istiklal Caddesi, but we have Bağdat Caddesi. (For those who haven’t dared to venture over to this side, picture Istiklal without the hordes of people shoving their way up and down the street and a wide tree-lined boulevard instead of a cable car.)

Back to the issue of distance -- sometimes it seems that we live in a city divided by a common body of water. Is Istanbul where East meets West, or where East versus West? Are those of us living on the Asian side destined to live just a bridge too far away?"

Today's Zaman, 08.03.2007


2.       Elisa
0 posts
 09 Mar 2007 Fri 12:10 am

Quoting juliacernat:

A bridge too far: Just how far is too far in İstanbul?


Hmm, thanks, interesting article

I'd love to hear the opinion of people living in Istanbul. I stayed on the Asian side as well as on the European side. It's not that obvious to spontaneously visit people who live on "the other side", but if you plan things ahead a bit, it is doable indeed.
But again, that's just my opinion, I'm not living there.. so what are the residents' opinions?

3.       KeithL
1455 posts
 09 Mar 2007 Fri 12:18 am

Well, the new tunnel we'll change this alot. But one of the biggest problems is the boats stop at 21.45 to 22.00. So you have to plan everything around the ferybots. Unless you want to take a dolmuş or taksi and some people dont want to do that late at night. during the day, traffic is bad at the bridges and other parts of the city. So yes, the boğaz is a divider for people.

4.       libralady
5152 posts
 09 Mar 2007 Fri 05:59 pm

My experience of go from European side to Asian, is that the traffic was so bad, we missed the first part of the wedding we were attending

But we went to some restaurants on other occasions on the Asian side and they were brilliant. I loved the Asian side and I would like to visit more.

But I know from my friend who lives on the Asian side and travels all over Istanbul with his work, dreads the rush hours and tends to work strange hours to counter this.

5.       ilka
15 posts
 09 Mar 2007 Fri 06:48 pm

I live in Kadiköy. By boat it takes 20 min to Karaköy and then one stop to Tünel. You can have simit and tea while travelling on the Bosphorus
At night I take a dolmuş home from Taksim, it takes about 15 min..
I think only those living on the other side think it´s a division..

MarioninTurkey liked this message
6.       juliacernat
424 posts
 17 Mar 2007 Sat 05:12 pm

here is another article on the beautiful city of Istanbul, viwed through the eyes of a foreigner:

"There are many ways to get around the colossal metropolis of İstanbul. I’ve been in İstanbul for four years, and I’ve learned practically every way to get around this colossal city -- ferry, taxi, bus, train, metro, dolmuş, etc.

As a country girl from the small town of Grand Rapids, Michigan, navigating the Turkish metropolis has been my biggest challenge and, now that I’ve mastered it, also a source of pride. Even the most minor task can turn into an adventure. My day usually begins with a mental run through all the errands I have to complete. Should I take the ferry? Maybe the metro line is easier. How is the traffic at that time? Is the bus feasible? How about the shared taxi, that is, the dolmuş? Is the bank on a convenient minibus route? These are the questions that begin my days. So with a charged Akbil, the electronic ticket that can be used on most modes of İstanbul transport, and small change to pay for those conveyances that don’t accept it, I head out into the city.

Dolmuş means “stuffed” in Turkish, and it is an accurate description for these van-like, careening vehicles. Yellow taxis with seats to accommodate eight passengers, they are cheap, fast and convenient. With a set origin and destination point, riders can disembark or flag down a dolmuş at any point along the route. Most run 24 hours a day, expedient for those of us with erratic schedules. Last week I wanted to go from Taksim Square, the most central point on the European side of the city, to Bostancı, a suburb on the Marmara coast on the Asian side. This route goes through Beşiktaş and over the Bosporus Bridge. Once on the Asian side it passes through the chic districts lining the famous Bağdat Caddesi then follows the Marmara coast before ending opposite the ferry station in Bostancı. I went to the starting point near the Atatürk Kültür Merkezi in Taksim and waited in a short queue.

“Sahilyolu?” (Seaside route?) asked a man, probably a friend of one of the drivers, who divided the queue between two waiting yellow minivans. I jumped in the one he indicated and sat at the end of the middle row. The back seat was jammed with four people and I shared my seat with three others, all young and probably university students. The weather was unusually warm and I pushed the window open to take in the breeze. Everyone passed YTL 4.5 to the driver and we lurched out into the congested streets of İstanbul. The driver cheerfully spoke to us, but engrossed in my own thoughts I didn’t pay attention. I just assumed he was talking to one of the guys behind me about the latest football match.

My reverie broke as the minivan jerked forward and weaved from lane to lane. However, that wasn’t what disturbed me so much, rather it was the insecure back and forth movement of my seat. Suddenly I understood what the driver must have been saying to us a moment before. He cheerfully repeated himself, telling us to brace ourselves and hold on. He wasn’t kidding. My seat moved and jerked and I thought of Newton and how objects in motion stay in motion. Our seat hopped and rattled and I grabbed the window, ceiling and sometimes the girl next to me, trying to prevent the seat from flipping back onto the guys behind. Seeing my confused face in the rearview mirror the driver explained further, for my benefit. My Turkish was good enough and I was able to clearly, if disbelievingly, understand what the problem was. Our seat had come loose from its hinges and he hadn’t had time to fix it. In order to keep from toppling forward or backward, it seems we needed to steady ourselves by putting a hand on the ceiling or, in my case, the window. The noble boys in the back sympathetically assisted us by bracing our seat with their knees and hands. What made this journey so unbelievable was how nonchalant my fellow riders were. No one acted as through this were anything other than ordinary. Maybe I was on one of those hidden camera shows? If so then I was the one the audience would be laughing at the most.

Before we reached the Bosporus Bridge we somehow worked out a system and alternately braced our legs or arms depending on how fast, or which direction we were turning. We adapted and calmed down. The girl next to me casually held the ceiling with one hand and flipped through a magazine with the other. She grinned at me and shrugged. “Burası İstanbul” (This is İstanbul), she said. My eyes must still have looked scared. She laughed at me and told me to relax. “I visited England last summer and nothing like this happened there!” Despite this, she told me, she preferred living in İstanbul. I am sure she had different things she had to adjust to, even during only a short stay in England, and many may not have been positive. I had learned to adjust to a lot of crazy situations since I had moved to Turkey, but whenever I started to feel comfortable I was confronted by another challenge.

We stopped suddenly, and then the driver recklessly continued. I actually think he enjoyed this, and will probably never fix the seat. He probably worked long hours with few holidays and needed some source of enjoyment and amusement. There was a near-crisis when the seat landed on the foot of a guy in the back row, but it apparently was forgotten by all but me with the next sudden turn and flurry of steadying limbs. Everyone started to chuckle and the ride began to have a carnival-like feel.

As traffic cleared a little on the Asian side I relaxed as well. After all no one had gotten off the dolmuş in a huff when they learned of the problem. In the US I probably would have jumped out of the van and complained to the police. Safety, after all, is a big concern. Here in Turkey, no one even complained to the driver. Passengers exited at their destinations and others hopped on to fill their places, taking their turn steadying the precarious seat. I still am concerned about my safety, but as crazy as it may sound, I found this dolmuş, though it was cramped and the seat unstable and loose, still much safer than if I were to have my own car and try to drive myself to Bostancı. After a while I too held on good-naturedly and braced myself. Adaptation is the most important thing needed to survive as an expatriate, not safety, I have learned. Besides after four years these little daily experiences keep the city enchanting. Every day I feel less and less like a tourist and more like a resident. Like the other passengers on that dolmuş, after I jumped out and the heavy yellow door rolled shut behind me I went on with my day. I tucked this experience away along with all of the numerous other mishaps that occur while in transit as another exercise on how to adapt".

Katherine Belliel, "Bostancı or Bust!", Today's Zaman, 17.03.2007

7.       MrX67
2540 posts
 19 Mar 2007 Mon 06:37 pm

istanbul,the place of meeting of cultures>>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQt6_AN3oFA&mode=related&search=

8.       juliacernat
424 posts
 01 Apr 2007 Sun 12:13 pm

"A friend of mine has a philosophy about the taxi drivers of İstanbul. He claims that every bad taxi experience he ever had was because the driver was from Rize, a city on Turkey’s Black Sea coast.

If he sees a taxi with a sticker, soccer club pennant, or any other item indicating the driver hails from Rize, he will avoid that yellow vehicle like the plague. As an American expat living in Turkey for the past four years I have also had my share of bad taxi experiences.

Traveling by taxi is still a bit new for me, my home city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, having very few. Like most people I usually wave my hand to catch a taxi from the busy street and jump in the back seat, regardless of car or driver type. İstanbul’s taxis are yellow like those in most other cities, but vary from new and modern cars to cardboard boxes with wheels and an engine. Numerous, convenient and relatively cheap, they are an easy way to get around the city. A taximeter located near the radio let you track the price, but be sure to check and make sure the meter is set to “gündüz” (daytime) rate if you are traveling before midnight. After that time, the “gece” (night) rate increases the fare dramatically.

The drivers vary in quality as well, from polite gentlemen to abrasive lunatics who drive so fast it seems like they professionally raced cars in a previous life. When I first moved here I was prevented from carrying out a conversation with the drivers because of the language barrier. I knew only enough Turkish to make sure I got to my destination. Once I learned more Turkish I didn’t want to converse with them, suspicious of any over friendly overture. Why couldn’t they just take me to the places I wanted to go to without any hassle?

Last October was a bad month for me. It was Ramadan, the month when most Muslims observe a daytime fast. Public transportation is a nightmare during this period. Tempers run high, and at the day’s end every bus, minibus, and dolmuş (shared taxi) is stuffed to capacity. To make matters even worse, near my apartment in Tarabya, a small district on the European side of the Bosporus coast, a new pack of dogs had taken up residence. Normally I prefer to walk as much as possible during Ramadan, due to the lack of space on transport. Now because of the wild dogs, I was having to resort to taking taxis as much as possible.

Ever since my childhood I have been afraid of dogs. In Michigan most dogs I came into contact with were leashed, not roving the streets in feral packs. Each gang has their designated territory, and they know every dog, car and person that resides in that space. Woe betide the stranger or unknown vehicle that enters that district, and it is best to keep a lookout for dogs whenever going to a place the first time. Most of the time they will leave you alone if it seems that you mean no harm, but it’s best to stay on your guard. I don’t trust them and I’m sure they are not fond of me either. In my complex, these dogs had beaten away the old neighborhood dogs, and brought their battles to our doorways.

One chilly autumn night I left the Viktor Levy wine house in Beyoğlu, a Bohemian central district on the European side, and jumped in a taxi to head home. The driver was old and was listening to some mournful Turkish music on the radio. He hummed under his breath as we sped through the dark streets of İstanbul. He asked me where I was from, but stopped his questions when I gave him only short, curt replies. His cab was neither new nor old, and although the interior was faded and worn, it was clean. Plastic flowers in a small vase were attached to the dashboard, and there was a vanilla scented car freshener plugged into the vent. A large, blue and white evil-eye talisman swung from the rearview mirror. Very few other cars were on the road at 11:00 p.m., and we easily zoomed through the European side districts of Şişli, Levent, and Maslak.

As we pulled up in front of my building in Tarabya, I could barely see my door as it was hidden by a writhing, wriggling, canine mass. Barking, growling and fighting, they made access to my apartment impossible. I handed the fare to the driver and my hand shook as I took the change and waited, remaining in the car uncertain of what to do next. After my previous rude behavior towards the driver, I was ashamed to ask for his help. He curiously looked in the mirror to see what was wrong, and why I hadn’t exited the vehicle.

“Ahhhh,” he said, assessing the situation. “Are you afraid of dogs?”

I nodded like an idiot. He laughed good naturedly and opened the door, motioning for me to wait inside. He then threw himself into the foray and started to dance, while singing a song. As he emphasized a phrase, he kicked a dog out of the path at the same time. Eight pairs of canine eyes watched his movements and hunkered behind the bushes lining the walk. His shoulders shook, his knees jerked and kicked, while his arms moved gracefully. He ended with a clap and a flourish, then shooed the remaining dogs away. Silently they slipped into the night, a force to be reckoned with another time.

Kindly he opened my door, and pronounced the walkway safe. I chuckled nervously and thanked him, surprised by his kindness, then inquired about his unique dog-clearing method. “Well, those were mean dogs,” he explained to me. “They would have understood that I was going to hurt them and attacked me if I came at them aggressively. This dance confused them, and they probably didn’t like my singing. This song and dance are from my home city of Rize,” He said proudly.

“Are the dogs in Rize as big as the ones you just scared away?” I asked him. They seemed as big as horses and I couldn’t imagine any larger.

“Yes,” he laughed, “much bigger!”

I thanked him again and he got back in the car. As he drove off I felt ashamed at my previous opinion of taxi drivers. Most of the men driving them are good and decent, and probably overworked. It takes immense talent and patience to ferry people around the congested streets of İstanbul. I have had other drivers who also came from Rize, without a negative episode. I now engage the drivers in conversation, and have learned a great deal about different parts of Turkey as well as enjoyed an opportunity to practice my Turkish. Since that experience I have changed my attitude as a passenger, and although I still remain cautious, I have learned to trust and learn from these thousands of chauffeurs in yellow cabs. Now if only an event could change my attitude towards İstanbul’s dogs, my life here would be perfect".

Katherine Belliel, "Leader of the Pack", Today's Zaman, 31.03.2007

9.       denizli
961 posts
 14 Aug 2014 Thu 05:41 pm

I was reading this post, about transit in Istanbul.


I had a question. I noticed one line was so curvy, the M1, why? It looks liking taking it would make it the long way? And the M3 is separated from the rest of the system. To take it downtown, would you need to get off at the end, take a bus, then hop on the T2?

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