Observations from Istanbul

The first thing you can’t help but notice is the sheer number of people in this ancient city. Fourteen to seventeen million depend on who you ask.  Istanbul has seen a lot over the course of its history and is still strong, vibrant and proud. The city is amazingly clean, modern and well maintained for its age.

It’s a marvel to see how efficiently the public transportation system moves everyone around between light rail, train and big and little buses. When you take one look at the car traffic you’ll readily jump on a light rail.  In my 45 minute cab ride from the airport (20 miles) we were moving quickly about 5 minutes and creeping along for the rest of the time. My cabby made every effort to switch routes, squeeze in where he shouldn’t and give a few drivers a piece of his mind, but in the end it was annoyingly slow for both of us.

 See full size imageThe highlight of the first day was a trip to the spice market, one of the oldest continuously run markets in the world. As a lifelong entrepreneur is was entertaining to see the free market system in full swing. Merchants  giving their   lively spiel to each prospective customer, haggling for the best deal and seemingly enjoy the whole experience all the while. It might have been 300 years ago for that matter, raw goods displayed on crates, a scale for weighing and an almost overwhelming amount of foot traffic and enthusiasm. Spices, cheese, herbs, even chickens, and of course the market staple – leeches. I can’t remember when I’ve seen a better bargain on a good old leech.

In the end I was struck by the simplicity, warmth and good spirit if it all. The Turkish people seem very comfortable in who they are and enjoy the traditions of their great city. They welcomed me with a warm smile, a huge selection of bargains and good deal on a rack of spices. Tomorrow I’m off to the more upscale district by Taksim Square.

  • Posted by Coach Pete
  • Tuesday, May 10th, 2011
  • Comments Off on Observations from Istanbul