The call of the muezzin is, for me, one of the most oriental things about Istanbul. Five times a day, the singing swashes over the city, mixing to a surreal blend of voices and calling the faithful to the mosques.
I have to say that I genuinely enjoyed the atmosphere in the mosques that I have visited. In between prayers, people are sitting in the yard, or lying on the grass surrounding the mosque. Everything seems to be peaceful and relaxed, without having the intimitading atmosphere of some churches.
Since there are probably as many mosques in Istanbul as churches in Rome, I picked two of them as representative examples: Yeni Cami (New Mosque) and Süleymaniye Camii (Mosque of Suleiman).
In May, I teamed up with two of my beloved Italians, Rita and Bea, to spent a relaxed afternoon in Üsküdar:
Üsküdar is a part of Istanbul on the Asian side of the city. On sunny afternoons, the coastline is teeming with Istanbulites, all enjoying the view on the Bosphorus and the European skyline.
A popular destination in Üsküdar and also one of Istanbul's most famous landmarks is the Kız Kulesi (Maiden's Tower). At the coastline near the tower, people are always sitting, chatting and drinking tea.
There is nothing like the sun setting on Istanbul:
Here are some more pictures of my university's gorgeous south campus. Most of my courses are taking place in the Engineering Department, which is shown in the fifth picture.
Not only does Boğaziçi University have a beautiful campus in Istanbul, no, on top of that there is another campus at the Black Sea, which, in fact, has its own beach.
One sunny day, I decided to go there, just on my own. Though I really like Istanbul, it was just so refreshing to escape into nature. I spent an amazing day of exploring, relaxing and water splashing.
After having followed the beach for a while, I discovered a ghost town consisting of holiday houses, which are slowly being reclaimed by nature. Discovering this area was so much fun!
Going further, I reached Kumköy, also known as Kilyos, which is a very cozy village and seaside resort. Since main season had not yet begun, the atmosphere was very laid-back.
Leaving Kumköy again, I explored a rocky cliff reaching into the sea. It was one of the most beautiful places in Turkey that I have seen so far. I spent some sunny hours there, before heading back to Istanbul.
She had told me that she'd come – and there she was! My fellow Munich citizen, Verena, has successfully tackled the long journey from Bavarian occident to Turkish orient.
And so the sight-seeing begins.
The Galata Tower overtowers (*) the district of Beyoğlu and can be misused as a aid for orientation throughout the city.
(*) pun intended
Turkish breakfast at university, followed by a stroll through cozy Bebek:
Me and Verena, being very happy about life giving us Kumpir and Waffles:
The Grand Bazar:
The Old City:
The Blue Mosque:
Turkish ice cream (which is quite different from the ice cream that I am used to):
A stroll through Kadıköy (on the Asian side of Istanbul), followed by Meze for dinner:
And selfies, selfies, selfies:
In March, I had the chance to go to Izmir with my lovely flatmate Giulia from Rome.
I got the impression that Izmir is quite different from Istanbul: It is more relaxed, warmer and less crowded. Walking through the streets and at the shores of Izmir gave me a holiday feeling, which was quite welcome after some tough days of study.
Chilling in the Kültürpark:
Not sure if funny or super creepy:
On the second day of our trip, we took a train through the beautiful Turkish landscape to visit famous and ancient Ephesos:
After having discovered Ephesos, we took a Dolmuş (shared taxi) to Şirince, since literally everybody had recommended the small mountain village to us. Şirince is mainly known for its wine-sellers, which offer a great variety of different fruit wines. We were happy to taste a sip or two.
The third day of our journey lead us to Pamukkale, which is a range of hills covered with white carbonate. Those minerals are left by hot spring water, which is flowing down the hillside and feeding natural pools (fifth picture).
What I didn't know about Pamukkale is that there is another huge ancient city on top of the hills. It is called Hierapolis and, to me, is just as awesome as Ephesos. The pictures only show a small part of it:
In mid-March, my parents travelled to Istanbul and spent an exciting week in the big city:
One of the most amazing things to do in Istanbul is a boat tour on the Golden Horn. The ferry took my parents on a trip along the impressive skyline of the old city, until they reached the district of Eyüp. There, they visited the Eyüp Sultan Mosque, which is the most important religious site in Istanbul for Muslims. Afterwards, they climbed the hill to the famous Pierre Loti cafe and enjoyed a beautiful view on the Golden Horn:
The street-food is an indispensible part of the city life in Istanbul. My parents were tempted by grilled corn cobs, sesame curls, chestnuts, fish sandwiches and many more delicacies:
The ever-present Turkish flag, proudly adorning the houses, skyscrapers, ships, hills and castles of Turkey. And, indeed, it is quite striking:
In some streets of Istanbul you can buy everything you could possibly need or not need:
At the bottom line, my parents were really impressed by Istanbul and concluded that it is a city that you must have seen. It means a lot to me that they took the time to visit me.
In Februar and April, my lovely curley-haired girlfriend Johanna came to Istanbul:
Among many other things, we decided to visit the Princes' Islands. These islands are located in the Sea of Marmara, close to the southern end of the Bosphorus. They can be easily reached by ferry, which took us on a beautiful ride through the Bosphorus and out into the Marmara Sea. During this trip along the coastline it became clear to me how big Istanbul actually is: Somehow, the city just stretches and stretches, dwarfing the parts that I have discovered so far.
Though the ferry enabled us to go to several islands, we decided to focus on the biggest one (Büyükada) and save the other ones for later. Following a road through the greens, we climbed the central hill of Büyükada and enjoyed the stunning view on the Asian part of Istanbul and the Sea of Marmara.
Of course, in an Erasmus blog, party pictures may not be forgotten:
And here is some more mixed stuff:
Having been in Istanbul for no more than 10 days, I went off again to see the famous Kapadokya. And it is, indeed, a dreamland:
Ortaköy is a cozy little part of Istanbul with a beautiful mosque overlooking the Bosphorus:
It's the most famous location for eating Kumpir, which became one of my favorite foods of all time.
Ortaköy is also a good place for doing a Bosphorus Tour:
Sitting in the plane, ready for take-off. Judging from the look on my face, I was not feeling too confident about what was happening. On the other hand, getting up at 4 am, having no breakfast, telling good-bye to your girlfriend and having the prospect of leaving to a far-away country for half a year might justify the lack of confidence.
A last look at Munich and, shortly after, an amazing view of the Alpes. Then, finally, landing in Great Ol' Istanbul. The city welcomed me with rain, snow and one of the most impressive traffic jams of my life. Further incidents of that day include standing in the middle of Istanbul, waiting several hours in the snow for my landlord to pick me up and, during that, experiencing a blackout, which turned the district completely pitch-black. Arriving is never easy.
However, my landlord managed to fight his way through the traffic and showed me the way to my flat. The view from my room is totally stunning, as you can see in the following pictures. I hope, my little nephew approves.
I'm sharing the flat with 9 other people (mostly students) from Turkey, Italy, Germany, Belarus and Lebanon. It is located in Fulya within the Şişli district. 5 min from the apartment, the second-biggest shopping mall of the world (at least according to Wiki) is situated.
The first meal (Pide), the first beer (Efes) and the first tea (çay):
Welcome to Boğaziçi university, the university that is actually not a university but an oasis within the city of millions (see also later blog entry for spring pictures):
The colorful Boğaziçi Üniversitesi / Hisarüstü metro station:
A first trip to the old city, organized by the ESN Boğaziçi student club:
This stuff is actually even sweeter than it looks: