Travel: Istanbul

Sunday 8 May 2011
Our trip to Greece ended on a low note after a bitter row with the car rental company. I've dealt with plenty of car rental agencies in my life but this one has got to the worst. I'd organized for a minivan from Auto Union through, presumably the middle man. Their staff do not wear name tags nor bother with a signboard so imagine trying to locate them in an airport. Ridiculous. I've never had this much trouble trying to return a car. We were given multiple conflicting AND vague instructions on the drop off location, meaning, we drove round and round  the entire airport with two hungry and tired kids and a tight schedule as we had to catch a flight out to Istanbul. One of Auto Union's representatives in particular, a middle aged lady was outrageously rude, aggressive and openly hostile. Good grief. Never again would I go near Auto Union nor their broker, Economy Car Rentals. I later discovered that they have a list of negative reviews.

Right, sorry about the rant. On to something far more pleasant - Istanbul. What's the impression I've got of the Turks? Gracious, industrious and warm. Everyone was happy to help even if we weren't remotely interested in their wares. Oh and they REALLY, I mean truly, genuinely love kids. Even the younger men. I have a feeling they don't see a lot of Asian looking kids in Turkey. Little L and Little Z could not go anywhere without a line of people queueing up to take their photos. For a while, I was considering setting up a photo booth and charging 1 turkish lira per photo. Those two kids were pros. They struck a pose the minute someone lifted up a camera. What I really appreciated was that each and every Turk asked permission in the nicest possible way before taking a photo with the kids. I've had tourists who just papped away with the camera taking shot after shot of the kids. I'm a parent so I can't help but be a little suspicious when someone sneaks around trying to take a photo of my kid. Anyhow, it was an interesting experience.



We did the obligatory visits to the main tourist attractions which I will talk later in my second post about Istanbul.  Nonetheless, I enjoy meeting the locals and learning about their culture more than anything. I have a fascination for peddlers. Don't shoot me when I say that I love street style hawker  food more than fine dining. These are the common ones that you can find anywhere in Istanbul.

peddler - fish sandwich copy
Fish (generally, mackerel) sandwich.

peddler - fish sandwich 5 copy

peddler - biscuit

I have absolutely no idea what this is. It looks like a lollipop where the peddler first roll each different sticky liquid on a stick before a final dip into half a lemon.




Making gozleme pancake.

I loooove these roasted chestnuts. Lil Bro and I were fascinated by the scale. I asked if I could take a photo of it but the peddler insisted that I took a shot of him with Lil Bro first!

peddler - fish sandwich2

peddler - bread

The ubiquitous pretzel peddlers found in every corner of Sultanahmet where most of the tourists congregate.

peddler - fish sandwich3 copy


  1. Very unique Turkish friendliness indeed !!
    The 2 kids are certainly treated like little celebrities and they seem to be thoroughly enjoying themselves . :D
    As with every holidays ,there is no escaping of the occasional unpleasantness and inconvenience despite your impeccable planning . would love to have some time to hear the nitty-gritty bits . Love you ,Mi
    Really miss the long chats with L .

  2. Amazing photos! It must have been a bit of a novelty for L & Z to be mini celebrities!

  3. amazing amazing photos, so beautifully taken! haha so oriental kids are treated like celebrities in turkey. little L would draw the crowds everywhere she goes. she has a very lovely and lovable face. and she's so well attired like her mom :)

    would you say tt istanbul is ok for travel if ther's no male company? yi n i wanted to visit istanbul but were told it's better if we had guy companions:(

  4. Wonderful photos,I am getting hungry looking of them, hungry for food and travelling. Last time I visited Istambul eight years ago, I guess a lot has changed since that time:)

  5. Mi and Chin, the kids are so unfazed by all the attention. They pose on cue and then go back to whatever game they were playing.

    Terri, thank you! I've had fun trying out my new Canon zoom lens which thankfully was light and cheap. What a sweet compliment. Thank you!

    I took Little L out with me alone a number of times and it was fine. My sister in law and I went shopping while the guys did their own thing and nobody really bothered us. However, I've heard of plenty of horror stories from fellow backpackers 15 years ago but no one bothered us this time. I would say to not wear anything mini dresses or shorts if you plan to explore Turkey.

  6. onlycoolcats, I had a great time walking around soaking up the atmosphere and taking photos. Istanbul is lovely. It was my first visit so I guess I can't do any comparisons as such.

  7. That Turkish lollipop/whatever looks very interesting. By the way, I'm loving your B&W pictures!

  8. Thank you, DA. I had a great time shooting the locals.

  9. it's like food in malaysia -- definitely the thing i miss the most -- all those coffee tiams and the pasar malam vendors!

  10. You're a absolutely right! I miss being able to pick up snacks and little kuihs from vendors. Relatives don't understand why I refuse to go to expensive restaurants. Give me hawker style food anytime!



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