The streets of Beyoğlu, Istanbul, teem with people at any time, and all times, of the day and night… shopping, eating, drinking, and meeting friends to sip coffee, smoke narghile, listen to music, and dance.
Locals stream from the transport hub that is Taksim Square, at the top of İstiklâl Caddesi, the main pedestrian street, all the way down to Tünel, and then continue to spill down the hill through Galata onto Galata Bridge. They trickle into the side streets that run off İstiklâl and into the parallel streets that meander alongside it…
Part of the fun of settling in for a while and spending time here is not only observing, but also getting caught up in, the daily ebb and flow, and drifting along with the sea of people.
And you do have to float like a little leaf down a creek. Go against it, or try to speed things up, as we did when we were running late a few times, and you’ll get incredibly frustrated.
If it all becomes too much for you, just jump on the charming old tram that runs the 1.6km route from Taksim to Tünel Square and back again.
Our favourite time to hit the streets is late afternoon when the city lights start to go on. From Tünel Square, you can take the underground funicular to Galata Bridge, but we prefer to skip down the hill, passing the musical instrument stores and souvenir shops and Galata Tower.
Once at Galata Bridge, we’ll walk halfway across, stopping along the way to see what the fishermen have been catching that day (hamsi or anchovies were in season when we were in town), then midway, we’ll take the stairs down to the lower level where we’ll grab a beanbag at one of the bars and watch the sun set with a raki or narghile. And sigh.