This is a version of an article I wrote for THE Istanbul ex-pat website Yabangee.com, lovingly re-published for my blog in all its unedited glory. A directors cut of sorts.
……..Because after each two hour journey home from Taksim in the early hours of the morning I have to remind myself what the hell I’m doing here. I’m not saying that living this far in is in anyway better than living in and around the centre. Poppycock. I had a choice between proximity to Taksim or proximity to work. I chose the latter. It was either be squashed within an inch of my life five days a week or two.
Although it is not how I imagined my Istanbul experience would be, I’ve learnt to be happy with what I’ve got. On those odd occasions when I’m not these are the things that I tell myself….
- Peace…. Away from the traffic and the crowds, I can walk around without having my personal space invaded. No tourism here. In a city where its easy to forget what personal space is, I am reminded of this luxury every time I venture to the centre. Coming home is a breath of fresh air. Almost quite literally.
- …..and quiet. The only noise I hear in my apartment is of the flat upstairs having the odd bi-monthly row at 3 O’ clock in the morning on a weekday. Other than those nocturnal nuisances we get a refreshing silence to help us get off to sleep.
- It’s greener. There are tree lined avenues, tree lined motorways and just general trees. I like trees! Did I mention the grass to roll about in? Living in a city like this makes you appreciate any bit of green you can get. And there is a lot more of it where I do live. Housing isn’t as crowded together and there is still space that has yet to be developed on. Of course its not going to stay that way, this is Istanbul, but for now, that is my silver lining.
- Turkce. You get to practice your Turkish. A lot. There aren’t many expats out here and there definitely aren’t any tourists. So you are forced to use your Turkish no matter how terrible it is. Turkce Bilbiyorum!? I soon got that corrected.
- The quality of housing. There are a lot of new developments out here. And a lot of people live in Sites with benefits such as a swimming pool, gym and onsite café. Including me. Pool party at mine anyone?
- Cheap. All of that for less than a, small old box in Changir. You pay for location. I pay for the metrobus, which is considerably cheaper.
- The Marmara Sea. There are some beautiful coastlines out here. Beaches even. With real sand! Avcilar coastline is glorious, with its promenade, rocks, park (trees!) and skate park. Yes those in the centre have the Bosphorus, but this is quieter, more chilled, greener, less polluted and has considerably less jellyfish. That’s just Avcilar. Beylikduzu’s own Gurpinar is ‘a full- fledged holiday resort right in the heart of Istanbul’ according to Today’s Zaman, Florya has a rather snazzy sandy beach and Kucukcekmece isn’t half bad either.
- Random Winter Sports. Fancy a bit of skiing? Some snowboarding perhaps? Torium in Haramdiere has Istanbul’s only winter sports park. When you’ve suitably worn yourself out from all that indoor snow stuff, go and see a movie in the cinema there, its only 6TL weekdays.
- Buyukcekmece. So I’ve mentioned coastline already. Buyukcekmece has one of the nicest beaches in Istanbul. But its not all about the beach. It also has an impressive Ottoman bridge spanning a picturesque boat laden lake. The district in itself feels like a quaint seaside town that couldn’t possibly belong to Istanbul. Not to mention the art festival that takes place there every year. Sit down and relax at one of its strange wannabe resort style pubs with an Efes, breathe in the less polluted sea air and drift away in an almost peaceful reverie, before the inevitable beep of a car horn brings you crashing back down to the reality of day to day life in this place.
- You get a very Turkish experience out here. Seeing how the other half live and all that. People are generally very friendly and will help you out if you ever get on the wrong bus to Esenyurt. Yes I am speaking from experience.
I know many of you people living in the centre do not feel the need to venture out. Why would you? But, if you have a hapless friend who so happens to fall within the nether regions of Istanbul, pay them a visit. You might be pleasantly surprised.