Life in Istanbul through the eyes of an expat

Places to go and things to do when you have just moved to Istanbul

After the hassle of moving, getting organized and trying to find your way in a new city, it’s time to really explore.

One of the first cultural experiences for me in Istanbul after moving there was the Amsterdam-Istanbul audio-tour. We boarded the ferry near the Galatabridge, overlooking the Bosporus River, had some tea and listened to the recorded information on the IPod. This tour was organized on December 25th and 26th and made you realize that life is the same, whether you live in Amsterdam on the ‘IJ’ or in Istanbul near the Bosporus. The great thing about comparing  daily life in cities that you know or visit, is that life is basically the same everywhere.

People go to work,  people go out and enjoy life, talk and sit with friends in a coffee house or cafe and eat, drink or surf on the internet.

A great place to visit is the Istanbul Sabanci museum in Emirgan. A beautiful, modern museum with a lot of books written in and information about calligraphy.Nice presentations and beautiful old handmade art. Painted in the most define colors.  A visit to the museum’s restaurant is more than worth it to have a great lunch or drink afterwards. Enjoy the (again) great few on the Bosphorus and relax. Worth mentioning is that the Sabanci museum a privately owned museum.

The museum is easy to find since you just drive alongside the shoreline from the city centre to Ortakoy, through Bebek and further on to Emirgan. The drive itself is definitely worth your time.

The Istanbul Modern and the Pera museum (Mesrutiyet Caddesi 65) are also places not to be missed.

For foreigners it’s important to integrate as soon as possible. The first step will be taking the effort to learn Turkish. You can either go to school first so you meet other people and can speak to each other. Be careful though not to talk in English all the time in between lessons. In the beginning it’s hard because you don’t know many words yet, but it will came little by little. Later on you can continue with private lessons if you wish.

A good thing for partners might be the IWI, the International Women of Istanbul. They organise coffee mornings, get tog ether’s, workshops for various interests  and they provide a lot of useful information for newcomers to the city. Whether you like to meet a lot of new people or you just want to take it slow and explore the city yourself, it’s all possible in Istanbul. Although traffic is chaotic and stressful, take a taxi or buy a token for the metro, tram or bus. The old ‘tram’ is going up and down on Istiklal Caddesi from Taksim square down through Beyoglu. All kinds of shops, restaurants and chique consulate buildings can be seen. Hop on and enjoy the ride!

Depending on how long you plan on staying, never a dull moment in Istanbul. You will probably need two years to see all interesting, cultural places and nice restaurants.

From Swedish design to IKEA, from the Turkish bakeries to the German ‘Backhaus’, you won’t have to miss out on a lot moving here. A lot of nice areas to shop, have a drink or read a book and just enjoy some peace of mind and life in the midst of the ‘craziness’ of a city that’s so big and crowded that it can feel great one day and just ‘too much’ the next.

Article By:  Nicole Visser-Moens
Date: 05.02.2011

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city map

Where to pay utility bills

Istanbul Paintings
Original paintings by artist Zana Morina To see all her works click here

Basic Turkish