One of the craziest parts of Istanbul are navigating the streets. Sidewalks suddenly have a car parked on them blocking your path...followed by a one-lane-wide street having two way traffic...and next there is a small courtyard with someone just sitting out enjoying the street passing them by. Being on foot in all the side streets really gives you the sense of the city and the vibrancy of it all. Go explore! You never know what you'll see.
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Cafes and Cats in Istanbul
One of the many pleasures when visiting Istanbul is sitting in a neighborhood café, enjoying traditional coffee or tea, and watching life stroll by, including the many cats that populate the city, especially in the residential areas such as Beyoglu. Locals and visitors delight in their presence. Sometimes cats even join you at the café and sit at your table, just to take in all the admiration.
Some locals say cats are so beloved here because one of them saved the Prophet Mohammed, from a snake. Others believe cats are good luck. Whatever the reason, it’s true that I did not see an ill-kept cat in the city but did see many bowls of food and water and lots of little cat beds set out in front of shops, mosques, restaurants, and homes.
Café life is truly alive and well in Istanbul, but don’t be surprised if you are joined by an unexpected guest, and a delightful one at that!
A short wander off the bustling Beyoglu streets and away from the chic boutiques and restaurants you will discover the quieter and more traditional neighborhood of Cukurcuma.
After browsing the antiques street of Cukurcuma Caddesi, stroll down the hill to find friendly neighborhood cafes and restaurants, bakeries, and groceries where produce is sometimes delivered by horse and wagon. When a few moments before you were making your way through streets crowded with cars, it can come as a surprise to see a man bobbing behind his trotting horse, he and his produce carried by a blue-painted and yoke-masted wagon.
One of the great pleasures here is slowing down, basking in the sunshine of a neighborhood cafe patio, while watching the leisurely pace of life and the happy tea and coffee drinkers at nearby tables. Take your time since it is considered an honor to remain at table, just one aspect of the hospitable Turkish culture.