Tag Archives: Kurtulus

My New Sunday Destination: The Antique Pazar

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The Ferikoy neighborhood is one of extreme contrasts. There are old apartment buildings, churches and a large cemetery that reflect the neighborhoods history and diversity. It is home to the city’s Armenian population and welcomes new refugees, Erasmus students and Kurdish families on a regular basis. Some of the streets and shops have not changed in the last 50 years, however, the city has changed around it. There is an old parking lot that hosts the organic produce bazaar on Saturday and the Antique bazaar on Sunday. Surrounding this dilapidated structure are sleek new apartment buildings surrounded my security gates and totally disconnected from the rest of the city.

This makes the bazaar a hidden and unexpected treasure. Every Sunday, antique collectors, artists and history buffs take over tables to display their unique collections. You will see absolutely everything from old Ottoman coins to costume jewelry, old books and picture frames, to interesting pieces of Judaica and used clothing. It is easy to spend hours scouring through each and every table, chatting with the collectors and bargaining for some unique gems.

And, of course there is food! In the middle of the bazaar is a wonderful booth with the best home cooked food. Additionally, the Saturday and Sunday bazaar has some of the best gozleme in the city (try the mixed gozleme. It is great!). Additionally, along the entrance to the bazaar is one of the only ‘organic buffets’, I have ever discovered in the city.

If you are looking for the perfect Sunday activity, this is it! Start your day with gozleme and fresh squeezed orange juice. Afterwards, spend and hour or two searching for treasures…

You can reach the bazaar by getting off at the Pangalti exit of the Osmanbey Metro station. Walk along Ergenekon Cadessi, passing Kurtulus Caddessi, until you reach the end of the street. You will see the tall new apartment developments (including Anthill) to your right walk through the development until you are greeted with a sign that welcomes you to the bazaar.

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This morning I had to pinch myself. Is this my life?! As I sipped my morning coffee, our neighborhood accordian player wandered the streets below, and music filled the air. Last night, as we roamed through Taksim after a romantic dinner at our favorite restaurant, we stumbled upon a dance festival, we saw a cat march confidently into a restaurant waiting to be served, observed a capuchin monkey walk down Istiklal Cadessi, and after returning home and opening a bottle of wine, we watched a 10 minute firework show from our apartment window. Life is good! And sometimes, full of so many wonderful, humourous and thrilling surprises!

The Bizarre Pleasures of Life in Istanbul

The Accordion Player Returns…

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He came again this Sunday. He was accompanied by his wife and child. As he walked past our apartment building, we made eye contact with him, and exchanged a series of waves and informal hellos. We used this opportunity to initiate our special basket, and provide our collective change (roughly 4.75 lira) to our favorite neighborhood accordion player. This basket is a neccessity to any apartment that looks out at the street, and has a daunting amount of stairs (we have 112 to be exact). It is very simple: it is a basket with a long rope tied to its handle. The rope is slowly released until the basket reaches street level. In exchange for our efforts (and creative albeit lazy delivery), he performed for us, and I captured it on video. Enjoy!

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The Annonymous Accordion Player

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Every Sunday, in the early afternoon music fills the streets of my neighborhood. A man playing the accordion walks up and down my long and narrow street. We do not know anything about him, but he has quickly become one of my favorite neighborhood characters. Rarely making eye contact with the formal and informal spectators that he attracts, he passes through the neighborhood with a sense of purpose and nonchalance. He does not demand an audience, nor does he immediately stand out from others on the street. Occasionally, he lures people to their windows, and sometimes into the street. Others encounter him by accident as they pass him on the street. Some stop and give him money, others walk by without any acknowledgement. I stand at my window, with a smile on my face when I remind myself that this is simply a normal day in the neighborhood.

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My neighborhood

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We live in Kurtuluş, a diverse neighborhood in the heart of the city. It was originally a Greek (and later and Armenian)neighborhood, founded by Greek families that worked in the dockyards of the Ottoman Empire. Unfortunately, most of the wooden houses and shops in the neighborhood were destroyed by a fire in 1842, and later in 1929. In 1929, the area became a symbol of modernity and hope when the new Turkish government invested heavily in rebuilding and modernizing the neighborhood. It was also renamed ‘Kurtuluş’, which means ‘salvation’ or ’emancipation’ in Turkish.

The neighborhood is lively and serves as a home for several of Turkey’s minority populations. While the majority of the Greek population has returned to Greece, the neighborhood remains home to many Jewish and Armenian families, as well as recent Kurdish immigrants. It is also quickly becoming a popular neighborhood for many expats who are living and working in the city as English teachers. There is a famous Armenian school, church and newspaper in the area. The small grocery stores offer Greek and Armenian products that you cannot easily find elsewhere in the city.

As you walk down the streets, you can overhear conversations in numerous languages and various accents. Everyone seems to know each other (this is not uncommon in old Istanbul neighborhoods where 2-3 generations live in the same apartment building), and people are warm and welcoming to foreigners. We were quickly absorbed into the diverse patchwork of the area, and feel very lucky to be a part of this lively community.

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Sunday Night Dinner

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There is a fish stand at the top of our street, 3 minutes from our apartment. There is a rich culture around fish in Istanbul. It is usually (if done right) served with a table full of salads and appetizers plates, and must be accompanied by Raki, the Turkish alcohol (very similar, but never associated with Ouzo). Apparently, every type of fish is good in this season (we were told). Our favorite is Cipura, which I have found translated as Gilt Head Sea Bream (?!). It is delicious. We decided to seize the opportunity and create a new (albeit temporary) tradition. In our apartment, Sunday night is fish night. Every Sunday, we prepare fish. Last Sunday we prepared fish with lemon rocket and onions (Turkish style). My personal favorite is fish with butter and garlic. We treat ourselves to wine, prepare a salad and indulge in the most flavorful, moist, fresh fish I have ever tasted in my life. Who wants to come to dinner?

Our New Apartment

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We just moved to a fabulous new apartment on the top floor of an old building in the Kurtulus neighborhood of Istanbul. It is one metro stop from Taksim, the modern city center, where Istanbul’s nightlife, shopping and restaurants are located. The apartment is a wonderful open space that has quickly become a refuge from the chaos of the city.

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