I have made it my mission to find good stuff west of centre. It takes ages to get anywhere from here. I want the good stuff and I don’t want to wait in the over filled B.O and bacteria box otherwise known as the metrobus. No thank you.
So living this deep into the European side as an ex-pat can be hard. Think apartment blocks, apartment blocks and more apartment blocks, with a sprinkling of glittering malls. There isn’t much character back here and going into the centre where all the lovely nightlife/historical/cultural stuff is takes the same time as it would for me to get from Birmingham to London. A lot for this small island girl.
There are definate perks to living so far away from humanity. It is much quieter out here in the suburbs. In this noise filled, chaotic city, this can only be a good thing. Here we have less traffic, less noise and less people. Far away from the maddening crowds of Taksim and its surrounding areas. Don’t get me wrong it still has it’s moments- I am still living within the confines of this 13 million people pit. This place is just less popular. For some reason people do not come far and wide to see the wonders of modern Turkish apartment living. Believe it or not this is not as interesting as the Galata Tower. Whoda thunk it? Think people minus the tourists.
As you can imagine for the twenty something ex-pat that spends the week dreaming of drinks and the Bosphorus, the hour and a half journey it takes to get there is more than annoying. Its morale destroying. I did not come to a foreign country to live in the suburbs with nothing to do and no like minded ex-pats for miles. In order to free myself of the urge to jump on the next plane home to my wonderous Birmingham where a trip to the city centre from my home takes a mere 15 minutes, I have had to make the most of it. Which means traipsing these concrete, construction addled streets to find the light at the end of the long, dark tunnel.
On my travels deep west I have been pleasantly surprised. It is possible to stay round here (rather than jumping on the next metrobus towards Taksim). Hurrah! One of the best of these pleasant surprises so far has been Buyukcekmece. A short 10-15 minute dolmus ride from mine, took us to this small town within this huge city. On disembarking the bus we were immediately struck with how not Istanbul this felt. Cobbled streets, space between apartment buildings why, this was a breath of fresh air and we hadn’t even made our way to our choosen destination.
As we wondered around, taking in this peaceful seaside town we happened across a lovely park. Complete with an old lodging house (how old beats me) and a rather large Ottoman bridge (built by the Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan) at the end of it, spanning a sizeable lake complete with rowing boats. Did I mention the grass? And the trees. And the happy children playing? I always wondered where children play in this city, now I know.
Pulling ourselves away from the lovely sun soaked Ottoman bridge, we made our way over to the top attraction. The Marmara Sea and the sandy beach that accompanies it. Beaches are a rare gift in Istanbul. Although the city is surrounded by water, the coast line is usually made up of giant rocks. Great for sitting on don’t get me wrong. But what a novelty to feel real sand between my contented toes. Ahhh now thats what I’m talking about.
Buyukcekmece truly is like going on holiday but without leaving the city and is a fifteen minute dolmus ride from my house. Makes a welcome change from the hour and a half minimum commute time to central sightseeing and general weekend tomfoolery. Perhaps a reason for people to actually come and visit us.