Gallivanting around Galata

Imagine the time – almost 25 years ago. Imagine the place – Istanbul, Eminönü and the old Galata Bridge over the Golden Horn.

Fishermen on the Golden Horen, new Galata Bridge in the background.Fishermen in Karaköy, the new Galata bridge in the background

“Up on the terrace of the hostel, the six of us ploughed our way through three bottles of reasonable red wine and one or two bottles of remarkably cheap Black Sea cognac, before taking off on an inebriated wander through the city. After following the tram tracks from Sultanahmet all the way down past the now closed and silent buildings to the water’s edge, we kept Jane company as she waited for a dark skinned young boy to carefully pick out the plumpest of the rice stuffed mussels from his round tray. He handed them to her only after he had solemnly drowned them in freshly squeezed lemon juice. He, along with a growing number of Turkish men, dressed much like the touts I’d seen in Marmaris, watched attentively as she downed mussel after mussel.

After farewelling the large crowd that had gathered, we somehow ended up in a tiny Turkish bar under the Galata Bridge. The bar was only about twelve feet by twelve feet, with an incredibly low wooden ceiling and walls that made it look like a sauna. Even I could only just stand upright in the small space, and it was like being Alice and we were now in Wonderland. This feeling was reinforced by the tiny stools we had to sit on and the way the bar appeared to sway. Given the amount we had already drunk, it would have been natural to assume this was a side effect, but after a while I realised that wasn’t the case. The bar, like the bridge it was attached to, was suspended over the Golden Horn, and it really was swaying. Every time the water moved, so did we. The bizarre atmosphere became even more so when four enormous and frankly frightening looking Turkish men drinking beer at the table next to us decided to engage us in conversation. The lack of common language was no deterrent, and as time and more of the terrible watered-down beer passed, we discovered they were Turkish wrestlers. We spent hours playing a tortured form of charades as they mimed tales of their wrestling triumphs.

The next morning I was very hung over…”

The above is an excerpt from my book ‘Waiting for the Tulips to Bloom: Adrift in Istanbul’.

Now scroll down to see some of my photos from a walk starting in Karaköy and on through Galata before heading back to the Galata Bridge.

The über cool Justin Meinl cafe in Karaköy, where…
fashion meets coffee

Continuing on with the trend of stylish inner city living, we come to the wonderful Doğan Apartments on Serdar-ı Ekrem Street. Built in 1895 in an Italian architectural style, the original owner was a man called Kazim Taskent. Today they stand as a reminder of Istanbul’s long cosmopolitan history, but tragically they are named after his son Doğan, who died while skiing in Switzerland. There are  51 apartments and two shops in the apartment complex. The blocks are built around a large internal courtyard, and they once boasted their own tennis court. Now the area where the tennis court stood is used as a carpark. Major restoration work was carried out in 2001 and the apartment block is now a popular location for film shoots.

The Crimean Memorial Christ Church tucked away in a side street. This is a poignant reminder of the losses sustained by the English, Russians and many other countries in the 1850s. If you want to know more visit the Crimean War Cemetery on the Asian side of Istanbul just near Haydarpaşa Railway Station.
ImageBack to everyone’s favourite – Galata tower.

Finally we return to Galata bridge where the same fishermen stand. We feasted on a dinner of calamari and sea bream. Sadly, the incredibly cheap Black Sea Cognac doesn’t seem to be available any more so we had to make do with raki and beer.

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About Goreme1990

I’m Lisa Morrow, the person behind I was born in Sydney, Australia and grew up a leafy middle class North Shore suburb. After finishing high school I went to Sydney University but failed to find my niche. After working as a public servant, cleaner, sales assistant, waitress, bar maid and car counter, I went overseas. Once there I hitchhiked through the UK, travelled in Europe and arrived in Turkey just as the Gulf War was starting. My three months stay in the small central Anatolian village of Göreme changed my life. On my return to Australia I earned a BA Honours Degree in Sociology from Macquarie University. An academic career beckoned but the call to travel was louder. After several false starts I moved to Turkey and lived there for ten years. In 2017 I moved to Lisbon, Portugal, but continue to travel regularly to Istanbul. In addition to my blog I've written a travel narrative memoir called "Waiting for the Tulips to Bloom: Adrift in Istanbul" and two collections of essays, "Inside Out In Istanbul: Making Sense of the City" and "Exploring Turkish Landscapes: Crossing Inner Boundaries". I have a regular segment on San Francisco Turkish radio and in early 2017 I released an audio walking tour called "Stepping back through Chalcedon: Kadikoy Walk", through VoiceMap. In addition I write for various international and Australian magazines and websites, as well as for this blog. A full list of my published articles, with links, can be found on the Writing on Turkey and Writing Beyond Turkey pages.
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