The Sea and Night Life: Last night in Istanbul- June 5, 2012
For our last evening in Istanbul, we decided to test the phrase we saw screaming out from many touristy t-shirts- ‘Istanbul never sleeps’, the declare!
We had studiously avoided any sort of organized tour on this trip and had snobbishly given a pass to the aggressively advertised Bosphorus Tours. So we started the evening by taking a regular passenger ferry over to Uskudar, which is over on the Asian side of Istanbul. Only about 30% of the city’s population lives here and we saw it buzz with the life of returning workers, lovers and families out for the evening, occupying its many endearing little parks and fountains. As everywhere in the city, open spaces were an integral aspect of life and well-used.
We then took another ferry and crossed over to Kabatas(h), which is on the European side but across the Bosphorus from the old city where we were staying. We headed back to Istiklal Street near Taksim Square, where we had spent an entire afternoon two days ago. At night, this commercial spine of the city was as live as it had been on the Saturday afternoon we were here last. Shops were open till about eleven and the cash registers still ringing. Entire families were out on a Monday night to enjoy themselves.
We made for the Cicek Passaji, a quaint old passageway full of about a dozen restaurants, and pubs where we proceeded to polish off some kebabs with an excellent Turkish dry white wine. Live music, sung by a band of musicians playing violin, a sort of mandolin, a tambourin and a sort of clarinet, filled the air. To my ears, it sounded very similar to the bard type of singing in Rajasthan, melancholy and joyous at the same time!
As we paid up short of midnight and dashed out hoping to still catch public transport back to the hotel, we saw the streets still full and merriments in full swing. We literally ran to catch the funicular back to Kabatash and then the tram back to Sultanahmet (will write separately about public transport), which had been our ‘home’ stop for our stay in Istanbul.
Adieu Istanbul! Happy to have been here…