Category: Blog

Some Other Places

Istanbul is certainly our love but we deeply care about how beautiful and breath-taking of a planet we all live in. Here are some of those fantastic places that make you question how amazing your living environment really is.

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Best Turkish Songs of 2014

Another great year has passed for Turkish music. Here is our Top 5 Turkish Songs that came out in 2014.

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HALİL SEZAİ – İSYAN

This guy is new and refreshing. Some hate him, most love him. Let’s see what you think.

NİL KARAİBRAHİMGİL – KANATLARIM VAR RUHUMDA

Cute young musician Nil has released a highly enjoyable song and here it is.

TARKAN – FİRUZE

Arguably the most popular singer in Turkey released his hit Firuze earlier in 2014. Tarkan’s music isn’t as good as some of his earlier work but in this piece, he did a remix of an old classic.

DUMAN – NEREDESİN SEN

Another reimagination of an old Turkish classic Neredesin Sen which translates as Where Are You?

TOYGAR IŞIKLI – HAYAT GİBİ

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Some of the songs may not be popular but they are much better than the popular bs. Such as:

ERKAN UĞUR – DOKUNMAK

BABA ZULA – BİR SANA BİR DE BANA

Bülent Ortaçgil & Teoman – Eylül Akşamı

TOP 5 UNPOPULAR BUT AMAZING SPOTS

We are revealing our favorite places in Istanbul that are not known by many people. These places are incredible, but they are not mentioned in the guidebooks or other information sources. We have felt like somebody has to let the word out for a long time now. So, here we go, our Top 5 unpopular, but amazing spots in Istanbul:

 

1. MAGNAURA PALACE

 

There is not much known about Magnaura Palace except for the fact that it was built by the Roman Empire in 425 AD and it housed The University of Constantinople (Some say that the first university in human history was established right there). The remainings have been buried underground for a long time! Fortunately, a small portion of the palace was renovated by a private business about 10 years ago. The remainings of the underground palace are open to visitors free of charge.

 

The location is in a very convenient area – right next to Four Seasons Hotel in the Oldtown and very close to Haghia Sophia. When you go there, you will see a hostel called Istanbul Hostel. Right next to it there is a carpet store and a cafe. Just walk through the main gate and take the stairs towards the back of the cafe that lead underground. The carpet store that’s on top of the ruins welcomes anyone who wants to see the site. They do it to impress their potential clients, but you won’t be pressured into buying any carpets, don’t worry! When you enter, you will realize that if you keep digging in any direction you will be able to discover so much more of the palace. This incredible site is NOT recognized as a historic monument neither by UNESCO or  the Turkish Government. Prepare to get very mad at the officials. And prepare to be amazed by what you are going to see.

 magnaura

2. FENER RUM HIGH SCHOOL

 

Located in Fener, one of the most culturally diverse and picturesque neighborhoods in Istanbul, Fener Rum High School is the this city’s first high school. It was established in 1454, only one year after the city was conquered by the Ottomans. Sultan Mehmed the II actually paid for the school himself. As many know, half of the Eastern Romans (we call them ‘Rum’) did not even put up a fight against the Ottomans when their city was attacked by them. This school and entire neighborhood was given to the Rum people as a gift. The current building was built in 1881 and believe it or not, it is earthquake-proof!

 

The school is still operating. There are only 56 students studying in this huge school. Only members of Eastern Ortodox Church can study in this school. The administration is actually very welcoming. All you have to do is ring the bell and they will let you come in for a quick look around. The yard has magnificent views of the Golden Horn.

 fener rum high school

3. ARNAVUTKOY

 

This little Bosphorus village-like neighborhood is just awesome! It’s name translates to English as ‘Albenian Village’ because there used to be Albenians living here and the name stuck. Throughout history, a lot of different ethnic and religious groups lived in this great location. The neighborhood is located right between two fancy party towns: Kurucesme and Bebek, but Arnavutkoy is not like them: it is still a NEIGHBORHOOD! It has an amazing historic texture filled with wooden houses, superb fish restaurants and breath-taking views of Bosphorus. It is the only place in the city where you can see both bridges that connect the European and Asian sides at once! This place is definitely worth discovering and is very under-appreciated.

 arnavutköy

4. BOGAZICI UNIVERSITY CAMPUS

 

A quick google search for the world’s most beautiful college (university) campus reveals the likes of Trinity College in Dublin, Pepperdine and Stanford in California and Peking University in Beijing. No where do you find Bogazici University mentioned, which is why it is perfect for this post. The campus itself is full of old stone and brick buildings similar to those found at Trinity College, but the views are what set this campus apart. Located about 5 miles up along the Bosphorus (above the glitzy, glamorous Bebek neighborhood) Bogazici University overlooks this world renown waterway like few other places in Istanbul. One has clear views of the curvy nature of the Bosphorus, the world’s biggest continent on the other side of it (Asia) and all the forested areas that (surprisingly) surround this city. We recommend heading to the university sometime in the morning, grabbing a cheap cup of Turkish coffee and sitting back amongst an attractive college crowd while gazing into the waters below you and the land beyond.

 bosphorus uni

5. MODA

 

Moda is a neighborhood located on the Asian side of Istanbul in Kadıkoy, one of Istanbul’s largest and most populated districts. Moda, on the other hand, has managed to remain small, cute and beautiful. It has great cafes, restaurants, nice stores, gift shops and views of Marmara Sea and the European side of Istanbul. Spending a late afternoon or an evening there is highly recommended. Moda also has a very modern Turkish population. It is a place for secular, open-minded, friendly people. You can easily start a casual conversation with a local and walk away from it with a new Turkish friend.

moda

Constantinople Reimagined

A huge set of works by Antoine Helbert, who is a brilliant designer and decorator, on Constantinople between IV. and XIII. centuries. The gifted artist created this very special collection by extrapolating from old records, the remaining ruins and the works of other artists.

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As one can imagine, what is portrayed in this work sharply differs from what Istanbul looks like today. We changed the name from Constantinople to Istanbul only in 1930 but the city had changed almost completely way before this date.

The city of Constantinople which served as a capitol to four different empires, still captures the imagination of so many people from all around world today. Constituting the backbone of Istanbul’s current popularity in both tourism and culture, the very memory Constantinople inevitably echoes in the minds and souls of so many history and art lovers who yearn for a period that is not to be forgotten any time soon.

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.”