Photo Essay

Live it and you will love it

Ä°stiklal Avenue

Breathing life in every corner, Istanbul feels as a living organism uncomparable to any European city; it's massive and tiny at the same time.

Take off your glasses, take away your prejudgments and explore this city as it wants to be seen: cosmopolitian, a city full of life and beyond the touristic hotspots a largely undiscovered city that never stops surprising.

One year ago I decided I wanted to live in Istanbul for a while. After I saved enough money while taking random jobs in Barcelona, where I used to live for three years, I embarked on a hitchhiking travel through Europe to see the changes in the cultural landscape while coming closer to this historical city. And while I was getting closer, my expactations were also getting bigger.

But being in Istanbul beats all my previous expectations. This city is simply beyond imagination. Everywhere you will find its streets full of life, with children playing out on the streets, in front of their houses, playing football, playing streetgames, as if they are in a small town with little fear for any type of danger.

In the meantime men are meeting at the barbershops or in the tea-houses. Or they simply put the chairs in front of their houses and meet and talk in front of their doors with their friends and also passers-by. In fact if you look carefull you'll notice that people are making new friends all over the time as talking to strangers is a hobby many share.

In the weekends you will find many families sitting along the Bosphorus strait that divides Istanbul in Europe and Asia. They fish and grill the freshly caught fish on top of their barbecues; fantastic scenes of joy and happiness.

The sea takes up a very important role in the city as it surrounds the main parts and the coastlines are endless. All along the coast there is green, forests, little harbors and terrasses. And being on the Bosphorus, offers you a very distinctive view on the city-landscape.

Ferries can bring you for less than a euro from one side of Istanbul to the other, carrying hundreds of people on each ride. You can also enjoy a Bosphorus-tour towards the Black Sea or even to one of the five picturesque and car-free islands on the Asian side, to cool off from the summer-heat and for a fresh dive in the sea.

On a less positive side-note, there is also much poverty in the city, especially outside the main city-areas. Most of the people here have less mobility and there are even children living in the suburbs who, even though it totally surrounds them, never have seen the sea.

Though most of the well-off youngsters are enjoying the city fully. For those who can afford it the city has a lot on offer. They head down to Taksim square and stroll down Istiklal Avenue, the main street where everybody seems to be at the same time. From there, they turn right and left, into one of the numerous little sidestreets that form small mazes of clubs, restaurants, bars and terraces with sometimes hardly any space to walk.

A greater ambience is hard to find. Istanbul beats by far any of the European cities I have been so far. Full of life, full of people trying to survive, but also full with genuine friendliness, hope, curiosity and happiness.

VOTE: Do you like this story?

Tell a friend about this story!

Tell a friend about this story!

  1. or

Hi there!

thought you might like this story!

—The JPG team

3 responses

  • Cosmin

    Cosmin gave props (21 Oct 2008):

    Hi, I liked a lot your photos, especially the ones contre-jour. You have my vote

  • Hannah Wilson

    Hannah Wilson gave props (10 Nov 2008):

    great photos

  • michael hoefner

    michael hoefner gave props (25 Feb 2012):

    great series. love it.

Want to leave a comment? Log in or sign up!