A Bit of Everyday Life in Istanbul

Toward the end of our trip, Eric asked me if I felt like I had gotten everything out of it that I wanted to. The only answer was a resounding yes, not only because we’d been out and about every day exploring all of Istanbul’s wonders, but also because I felt like we’d gotten a good sense of everyday life there–the kind of things you’d never know without visiting. Those little things are usually what I appreciate most, so I wanted to share a few of them here.

We saw so much gorgeous street art. This building was really kind of astonishing.

This was our neighborhood, right by the impressive Galata Tower. The cobblestone streets were so lovely, and every day we watched cars and trucks carefully maneuver through them, which was a serious feat.

This is another street scene from our neighborhood. Lots of cafes and design shops!

This is the staircase of our building. I shudder to think how they got any furniture up these marble stairs!

This is the corner shop where we got our produce. Do you see those cabbages at the bottom right? I have never seen such big ones in my life! It looked like they’d just hack off a quarter or so of each one for you so you didn’t end up with 10 pounds of cabbage on your hands.

Eric and I ate so many simits, which are these glorious circular breads. Our favorite was extra yeasty and topped with nigella seeds.

Wherever there were simits, there were almost always fresh roasted chestnuts and corn nearby.

Although Turkish coffee is famous in its own right, tea is definitely the go-to drink. We saw these tiny little glasses on windowsills all day long, and watched as waiters darted through the traffic delivering trays of tea to nearby shopkeepers.

Another drink of choice was definitely juice, and they had these impressive juicers just waiting to squeeze you a cup of fresh orange or pomegranate juice.

Istanbul is definitely a cat city–they are everywhere! And generally treated very indulgently. Even though I am more of a dog person, I was pretty charmed.

Here is the funicular that we rode up the hill every day. It was so gloriously efficient and beautifully historical.

This is the “nostalgic” tram, which we never rode (too crowded and slow!), but which we appreciated nonetheless.

Speaking of old and new, we saw this horse-drawn cart in Cihangir, hauling fresh melons. The craziest moment, and I’m sorry we didn’t capture this on camera, was when a Range Rover pulled over and the vendor delivered a melon through the window before the driver sped off down the street. Worlds colliding!

One of my favorite memories is of watching these guys eat breakfast right below our window every morning. They were the employees of a repair shop, I think, and when they weren’t busy, they would drag a table out into the street and have a meal or tea. The first morning I saw them, I almost thought the breakfast had been choreographed, so fast were their arms flying over the table. Beautiful.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that another favorite was getting to use my (minimal) Turkish. I smiled every time I had the chance to say “iyi akşamlar” (“good evening”) to anyone. Such a beautiful language, such a beautiful place.

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