Category: Blog

TOP 5 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ISTANBUL IN 2015

As many people from all around the world notice, Istanbul keeps adding to her popularity each year. 2014 was yet another great year both for Istanbul and Turkey in general. At this point, Istanbul is the 3rd most visited city in Europe, right behind Paris and London, and 7th in the world. If that doesn’t say something, what does?

So how about 2015? What are some of the most exciting travel activities you could partake while you’re visiting this majestic city? There are countless resources you could use to get advice on this but we thought we should prepare a list ourselves and as always, make it ‘The Other Tour’ style…

istanbul aga

CIHANGIR: THE ARTSY BACKSTREETS OF TAKSIM

Cihangir has been the rising star of Istanbul for a long time and it gets noticed by many travelers as new cafes and bars pop up all around the neighborhood. Renting an apartment in Cihangir has also been a very good idea as many people list their places on sites like AirBnb and such. And who could blame them? The area is full of good energy, great people and the cutest little antique shops and art galleries that give you a lot to enjoy and learn, simply by walking around.

On top of all that (literally and figuratively), some of the best rooftop bars and restaurants are also in the area. Our favorite is 5.Kat which offers THE best view of Bosphorus and the city. If you are not particularly into rooftops (and that’s just weird), there are many other cool venues you could enjoy such as 21 which has a fantastic vibe and quite delicious food or White Mill, which has an awesome backyard and a unique atmosphere.

Cihangir doesn’t much to offer in terms of late night entertainment. For that, we go to our next recommendation.

cihangir

ASMALI MESCIT aka PERA

All the day from Galata Tower until half way through Istiklal Avenue and all the cool backstreets in the area is considered to Asmalı Mescit. Or Pera, the ancient Greek word for ‘across’ because the area is right across Galata. Anyway… this fun region offers a lot of cool things like intriguing architecture, lovely food, dozens of cafes and bars, bookshops, art galleries, street performets and cool views of the mesmerising Golden Horn.

Some of our recommendations include, trying the mojito at Parantez which is delicious AND cheap. Or the turkish coffee on the rooftop bar of London Hotel. Or the tomato soup in Helvetia.

cdcdscscds

EMIRGAN AND KANLICA

These two neighborhoods rarely get any foreign visitors and what a shame that is. We often spend time there during The Other Tour and even though I don’t wanna reveal much about the precious formula, I gave to put this out there.

These are 2 wonderful neighborhoods on Northern Bosphorus. Emirgan is one European side and Kanlıca is on Asia. And how can you go from one to another? With cute little water taxis that only take about 5 mins and charges you 5 Lira per person. Emirgan has nice cafes and restaurants while Kanlıca has the famous yoghurt. And let’s not forget the Emirgan Park which may be the most beautiful park in the whole city.

I don’t want to share further simply because I don’t want to. But I have given you the magic words. Look it up and go spend some time there – you’re gonna love it!

emirgan

DEEP INTO KADIKÖY

A lot of people are aware of how cool Kadıköy is and how much it has to offer at this point. However, I still want to point out a few cool ideas about it. Like exploring the backstreets through Barlar Sokağı and onto Moda district. Then making your way towards Bağdat Street. So many cool little shops, bars, restaurants, views of The Sea of Marmara, wonderful people, etc. are only some of the thing you should look forward to while you’re there.

And don’t forget to drink alcohol out on the streets. 3 reasons why I like that:

  • It’s legal.
  • It’s refreshing and cool.
  • It’s alcohol, you don’t need any other reason.

kadıköy

THE OTHER TOUR

Well you might think I’m just another selfish businessman promoting my own product here and you wouldn’t be that far off but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong. The Other Tour still is one of the best things you can do while you’re in Istanbul.

The tour runs 3 times a week (however we plan to do it every day in the near future) and consists of a variety of cultural activities such as visiting interesting but mostly untraveled neighborhoods, local schools where we interact with students and teachers, local streets markets where to sample local products, have a delicious lunch at our mother’s house, get a massage in an ancient Turkish bath, enjoy a boat cruise across Istanbul’s famous Bosphorus and have dinner and drinks in a traditional restaurant where we sing and dance.

The Other Tour - Marketplaces in Istanbul

OTHER HONORABLE MENTIONS

  • Don’t miss The Mosque of Suleiman. Most people do and the they miss out on seeing THE BEST mosque in town. Yes, even better than the Blue Mosque.
  • Chora Church is always a good idea.
  • Anzac Centenary. For Australians, this year is the 100th anniversary of the landings at Gallipoli to sleep out under the stars as the original Anzacs did 100 years ago. It is going to be a time that will acknowledge the heroes and stories and the distinctive bond that has grown between those who live in Turkey, Australia and New Zealand. And there are daily trips to Gallipoli from Istanbul that conveniently gets you there and brings you back.
  • If you’re short on time, you could actually take a day trip to Cappadocia. It could be a little pricey, but it would a such a nice gift both to yourself and whoever you’re going with.
  • See a street market. We call them ‘pazar’ which means Sunday in Turkish. Because they used to be set up on weekends but today, they are there everywhere. But they also change location every day of the week so that they can go all around the city. You can see and taste some of the best products of Turkey in these markets.

sunset mosque

BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY…

Go meet some locals. Seriously. Folks from Turkey are some of the most friendly and hospitable people in the world. Especially the ones in the areas mentioned above. And so many people are eager to interact with foreigners and maybe improve their English (which is the second language here) but they usually don’t get a chance. You can easily start a casual conversation by simply saying Hi. Try not to be so shy for God’s sake!! :)

I’m sure I didn’t include a lot of cool options on this list. Do you know of any cool ideas that would make me go back and update this post. If so, leave your comments below and force me into admitting that even “I” don’t know everything.

And as always, have an amazing time Istanbul. It’s highly likely anyways…

What Do Tree Rings Sound Like?

This is brilliant! What if you could actually listen to the trees?

Bartholomäus Traubeck created equipment that would translate tree rings into music by playing them on a turntable. Rather than use a needle like a record, sensors gather information about the wood’s color and texture and use an algorithm that translates variations into piano notes. The breadth of variation between individual trees results in a individualized tune. The album, appropriately titled “Years,” features spruce, ash, oak, maple, alder, walnut, and beech trees. It is available to download now, though it will be available to purchase on vinyl in August. The end product of these arbor “records” is haunting and beautiful and you need to check it out.

The Oldest Temple In The World: Göbeklitepe

An archeological site in Turkey, known as Göbekli Tepe, is currently the oldest known archeological site with evidence of significant and prolonged construction activity by humans. Evidence suggests that it was some sort of religious/gathering place for people.

The real kicker- The site was built about 12,000 years ago, was active for over 3,000 years and then methodically covered up in the 8th millennia BC. Its excavation contradicted the then popular view that an established agricultural system was necessary for large-scale mobilization and co-operation amongst human beings. Archeological evidence from that site suggests that it was built at the very beginning of the transition from hunter-gatherer to agriculture based societies, as the remains of wild versions of cereals such as wheat have been found at that site.

Archeological discoveries in Urfa continue to yield exciting results with each passing day. Scientists are rushing to see the remains of an 11,500-year-old temple discovered in Göbeklitepe. Furthermore, a 13,500-year-old statue, the world’s oldest, discovered during an excavation in Balıklıgöl has astonished archeologists from all over the world. Assistant Professor A. Cihat Kürkçüoğlu of Harran University claims that the history of civilization began in Urfa.

The Göbekli site is spread over an area of about 22 acres on a sort of plateau among the hills. There is a gently rounded mound, about 300 meters in diameter and 15 meters high, on the plateau. From the site there is an almost uninterrupted view of the horizon on all sides. To the north is the Taurus range, to the east the Karadağ. In the south, the Harran plain stretches away to Syria. To the west is a series of ridges over which the road from Orencik traverses, to reach the site.

“Wow,” exclaims the visitor from New Zealand, a place, after all, with a human history shorter than most. For from a wooden walkway we’re gazing down at an archaeological site of giddying age. Built about 9000 BC, it’s more than twice as old as Stonehenge or the Pyramids, predating the discovery of metals, pottery or even the wheel. This is Göbekli Tepe in south-eastern Turkey, generally reckoned the most exciting and historically significant archaeological dig currently under way anywhere in the world, and there are neither queues nor tickets to get in.

Istanbul Bosphorus 2014

My brother Sezgin, aka photosgrafus has made a little video of the uniquely precious and beautiful necklace of Istanbul.

Communication

Here is a great part from one of my favorite movies, Waking Life:

“Creation seems to come out of imperfection. It seems to come out of a striving and a frustration. And this is where I think language came from. I mean, it came from our desire to transcend our isolation and have some sort of connection with one another.

And it had to be easy when it was just simple survival. Like, you know, “water.” We came up with a sound for that. Or “Saber-toothed tiger right behind you.” We came up with a sound for that.

But when it gets really interesting, I think, is when we use that same system of symbols to communicate all the abstract and intangible things that we’re experiencing.

What is, like, frustration? Or what is anger or love? When I say “love,” the sound comes out of my mouth and it hits the other person’s ear, travels through this Byzantine conduit in their brain, you know, through their memories of love or lack of love, and they register what I’m saying and they say yes, they understand.

But how do I know they understand?
Because words are inert. They’re just symbols. They’re dead, you know? And so much of our experience is intangible. So much of what we perceive cannot be expressed. It’s unspeakable.

And yet, you know, when we communicate with one another, and we feel that we’ve connected, and we think that we’re understood, I think we have a feeling of almost spiritual communion.

And that feeling might be transient, but I think it’s what we live for.”

384th The Other Tour Istanbul

We had a great time this Monday. 2 couples + 1 Canadian + Istanbul + The Other Tour = Fantastic Time

Clouds over Istanbul

Today’s art is presented by nature as always…

The Other TripAdvisor Images

Here are some more images from the wonderful past of The Other Tour.