This afternoon we went up to Taksim Square to see what the demonstrator's were doing. Also, a lot of Istanbul is on this side of the Golden Horn, and so far we'd spent all our time in the Old City. Time to explore the New City!
Eveline from the cooking school lives over here, and the Americans we met at the school were all staying here. Our guide on the Bosphorus had finished the tour with an impassioned plea for us to go there to show our solidarity with the students.
So we took a taxi over the Golden Horn, via the Ataturk bridge, and got off at the street below the Galata tower. We walked up to it
most of the streets around here are narrow and there are lots oif interesting shops! In the old town most of the shops are tourist shops, selling carpets, porcelain, clothes, souvenirs, but here in the narrow streets one also finds fruit stores and cake shops and hardware etc, all jumbled together. In the Old Town these shops are clustered together - a street of hardware stores, 5 streets of womens underwear, etc. So it's interesting and different being over here!
Oh - Galata Tower - it was built in 1348 during an expansion of the Genoese colony in Constantinople. It was at one time used for spotting fires in the city until it itself was burned. It was restored many times but in the 1960's the wooden interior was replaced with concrete and it was opened to the public. 9 floors high if you want to climb to the cafe and bookshop on the top! Great views, I'm told!
We had a quick lunch at a restaurant near the tower then walked up towards Taksim.
The main street running down from Taksim Square is called Istiklal street, and it is a pedestrian street for most of its length. It is lined with shops and businesses, many designer stores such as DKNY, H&M, French Connection, Desiguel, Sephora etc, as well as many Turksh designer labels, book shops, art shops, banks.
There were light fixtures above the street, so I bet it looks really good at night!
Fabulous cake shops
As we got closer to Taksim there were popup stores selling anarchist masks, Atataturk flags and scarves and hats, revolutionary banners,
and lots more people about. We'd read and been told that the police are using excessive force against the demonstrators - for every 20 people there are 40 police with water cannons, tear gas, riot sticks, etc. Although Turkey is a secular country, people are, in some cases, being arrested for flouting Islamic law. The middle classes are revolting ;-)
There were *lots* of people around the park, the centre of the protest. Signs of some earlier violence
and there wasn't a square centimetre of the park that wasn't occupied by students
tents, books, pamphlets, food, singing, haranguing - it was all happening!
We left and went to a lovely cafe nearby, for very upmarket cakes and coffee,
feeling rather indulged and removed from the protest (and superficial!), even though we support what they were doing.
We got lost trying to find our way to the tram station, wandering through the backstreets and finally going down a very steep road
and then onto the tram back to the Sultanahmet.
Trams are a gret way to get around Istanbul! You buy a jeton at a machine and it works for one trip. Alternatively, you buy a book (akbill) at the news kiosks and then top it up in the machines at the ferry and train stations. The akbill lets you travel for a day on all forms of transport.
Here's the Blue Mosque by day as we came back to the Sultanahmet Park
and here's our roof terrace by night, with the Blue Mosque in the background