As a result of losing my wife to cancer shortly after retiring, at the age of 72, I later married a wonderful Turkish lady. From living in my home of twenty years in the country on the Turkish Mediterranean Coast, I moved to live in Istanbul. It is an incredible difference living here, where the traffic is thick and furious, and no apparent regard for traffic rules. The only ones that seem to apply are those you make yourself.My wife and I live close to Bagdat Street one of the busiest shopping streets in Istanbul. Here there are a number of café/restaurants where even during the winter months are packed with people sitting outside talking till late at night. This is possible, due to these premises installing heaters overhead to take off the chill night air.
One thing I cannot get used to here is the blatant disregard of basic traffic rules. Many motorists pass through traffic lights on red, with it nothing unusual to find motorcyclists/delivery people riding on the pavements thronged with pedestrians, with no one apart from me apparently concerned about it. Also when crossing one way streets, one has to be careful as motorcyclist delivery people use them in both directions.
As this is an up-market part of town, there are many expensive cars and motorcycles driving along the long, straight one way street, which at times seems just like a racetrack. Although there are regulations re noise from traffic, no notice is taken of this, with motorcyclists being the biggest culprits. Although at times one sees police-cars and police motorcyclists, I have never seen anyone stopped for excessive speeding or noise violations, with little done about double parking or drivers talking on their cell phones while driving.
However, on the good side of our living on the Asian side of Istanbul where we live, it is not so busy as on the European side. There are also fewer expats, with myself a bit of a novelty walking along hand in-hand with my wife. Strange though it may seem we get far less rain than on the other side, with the weather generally better. Transportation is excellent, with all manner of transportation options. There is a fast metro system that is steadily being enlarged, covering more areas of this vast city, with metro buses operating on dedicated road lanes. Apart from that, there are buses, metered taxies and dolmus, which are used like 10 seater shared taxies, operating on various routes at reasonable costs. Air travel from Istanbul is available to an ever growing number of destinations both inside and outside the country. To cross from one side of Istanbul to the other are two bridges, with a third under construction.
Also there a large number of ferries that take thousands of people each day from one side to the other.
Istanbul is a fantastic vibrant city with so much to see; you need at least five days to take in all the array of historic attractions. Unfortunately, due to its immense popularity, house prices and rental accommodation are far higher here than in other parts of the country.
Despite the traffic and increased living costs, I am happy living here, although I miss the open view of the forested mountains from when I lived down on the Med. Now all I can see is apartment blocks from whichever window I look out. Despite Turkey being a Muslim country, in the twenty-five years of living here, I have never encountered any problems related to religion. Although English born and bred, Turkey is where I now call home.
Colin shares more adventures of his life in Turkey through his blog, Adventures of an expat writer living in Turkey.