Postcard of the Week: Istanbul
For 2 or so years of my childhood, my sister and I had an au pair from Istanbul. Over the years we had several au pairs, perhaps 6 in total, but Nurşen from Istanbul was the very first one and she moved from Turkey to come and live with us (and more importantly, to be another cast member in our many childhood plays!). We were a bit too young to really quiz her over what living in Turkey was really like, but we’ve kept in touch with Nurşen and she very kindly gave me some great tips for my recent weekend trip to Istanbul.
I actually went to Turkey last year but only saw the coast between Marmaris and Fethiye while sailing on a family friend’s yacht and this year my boyfriend and I decided to head to Istanbul. We opted to stay on the Beyoğlu side of Istanbul, which isn’t as historic as the old site of Constantinople immediately to the south, but is better positioned for restaurants and nightlife. However our hotel was close to the 14th-century, 63m-tall Galata Tower, from which there’s a beautiful view over the Bosphorus River and the Sultanahmet part of the city. One of the most famous landmarks in Sultanahmet is the Blue Mosque, which is what you can see in the postcard above, which I really liked. Despite being monochrome, the illustration manages to effectively conjure an image of how the Blue Mosque might have looked in its heyday. The building is much unchanged, although the excessive crowds that today surround the Blue Mosque are thankfully absent in this postcard. While I really liked Istanbul, the authorities don’t seem to handle the excessive numbers of tourists particularly well, and Istanbul served as an interesting example of the risks of mass tourism. Excessive numbers of camera-wielding tourists and unreasonably long queues risk destroying the value of the very sites Istanbul relies on to attract tourists. There’s a fine balance of how many tourists a city can comfortably hold at any one time while still maintaining ‘the experience’ and Istanbul doesn’t appear to be managing this balance!
I bought another postcard in this style, below, which shows the view from Beyoğlu and conveys the density of Istanbul and some of the chaos that you experience on the streets of the city.
Keep an eye out for my full review of Istanbul, a city I found fascinating, although it was very different from the picture I had built up in my mind.
Istanbul is a city you can’t really prepare for – everyone one I know, including myself, had an idea of what the city would be and it never really matched! In the end everyone was pleasantly surprised with it! I hope you were too 🙂
I agree. It’s surprising though that I hadn’t heard of it before as a city that would surprise me. It seemed relatively un-visited by Brits, although there were certainly lots of Middle Eastern tourists there!
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