Heading home from Paris, we had a one day layover in Istanbul. We were in the neighbourhood of Yeşilköy, located on the European side of Istanbul.
It was a Sunday. A nice day to go for a stroll. The weather was warm and the day felt like a spring day in Halifax. Flowers were blooming. Weddings were everywhere!
One of the first things we noticed was the lack of cafes that we had become accustomed to finding at every corner in Paris! Finding a coffee other than a Turkish coffee was nearly impossible!! And when we finally found a cafe, the only coffee other than Turkish was instant coffee – Nescafe!! Nescafe served so strong, Garfield wouldn’t have liked it!!
Another feature we noticed was the people. Specifically, the men and how tough most of the men appeared. Turkish men both young and old had this brooding look with a tough, don’t mess with me veneer. But, when they smiled their faces lit up with laughter!
Yeşilköy had the start of that familiar feeling of Middle Eastern living as we headed home to Doha, but with many differences too. As we walked around we noticed that mosques were abundant, but men did not wear thobes and ghutras. Most women wore hijabs and abayas. Instead of flat, barren desert land and compounds with families hidden away for privacy, here were steep hills populated with narrow streets lined with apartments. Children laughed, played and had fun while running up and down the slim, old streets!
There was a feeling of family and community, but not a welcoming to strangers embrace as we walked and smiled at everyone, receiving mostly suspicious stares back!! Even the children stopped their laughter and smiles and looked at us suspiciously!!
To wrap up our afternoon wandering around Yeşilköy, I’ll end with a nice story that happened in the cafe. We did not have enough Turkish currency to pay for our coffees and their debit machines did not accept our Qatar bank cards. So we had to find a bank machine to withdraw money to return and pay for our coffees. So off we went. When we returned to pay for our coffees, the shop keeper was so surprised/happy that we actually returned to pay for our coffees, he gave us each a free mini chocolate eclair!! Michael commented that we must have restored his faith in humanity that day!
Love, Stephanie xo