İstiklal Caddesi (caddesi = street/avenue) is a pedestrian street in the Beyoğlu district of Istanbul. It’s almost 2 miles long and on weekends it can get around 3 million visitors on average each day (courtesy of wikipedia). It’s lined completely with shops, art galleries, cafes, and restaurants. There are side alleys all along it too that are filled with bars, taverns, music clubs, pubs, and fish restaurants selling that famous Turkish devil’s brew called rakı. It tastes like ouzo – yuck. My host dad sips on a glass every night much like an American dad would sit down with a beer at the end of the day. That black licorice smell is just too much for me though
I’ve been to İstiklal twice now, once at around 2 and the second time after 5 and boy do things really start kicking up as the sun goes down. The number of people walking down the street quadruples! I wish I’d taken pictures of the crowded version of the street but sadly I didn’t think to take photos the second time (I’m sure I’ll make it back there though).
There are stands all over selling roasted chestnuts and other ones selling simit (like a pretzel but with sesame seeds not salt)
And in true Istanbul fashion there are even a couple churches from different faiths just off the street as well. We saw the St. Anthony of Padua/St. Antoine Church. It’s the largest Roman Catholic church in Istanbul. It’s pretty crazy to see a church right by a shoe store.
It was so pretty inside, I was convinced it was an Orthodox church until I looked it up to find out on wiki. I’m used to the bare bones type of Roman Catholic churches, I guess. As a pick me up before going home to the kiddies I got a Turkish coffee before catching the
tram (yes, a tram I mean trolley! I was reminded of San Fransisco) back up to Taksim Square and the bus back home.
Speaking of buses, I give myself at least an hour to get places in Istanbul, the traffic is crazy here. Yesterday (Sunday) it took me over 2 HOURS to get home! My host mom says Sunday traffic is always the worst. Duly noted. I could have probably walked home faster than that bus was moving.
I took more pictures of Turkish coffee – I just think it looks so cool! It was a little cafe at the end of İstiklal Cadessi by the
tram trolley stop. I didn’t know how to say it in Turkish at the time but Turkish coffee sounds pretty similar to türk kahvesi and he probably gets a lot of tourists like me asking for the same thing. Wiki says it’s made by boiling finely powdered coffee beans which is why it’s so thick. I always get mine with sugar but you can add other things in there. They always serve it with water. Wiki (you gotta love wikipedia) says it’s to freshen your mouth to better taste the coffee – didn’t know that, I’ve just been using it to freshen my mouth after I was done with the coffee so I don’t walk around with coffee breath…