Istanbul is hustling, beautiful, busy, chaotic, romantic, historic, kitsch, gorgeous depending on which part of the city you are and the time of day. A city of over 14 million people the time of day really would change the impression you get from where you are at. People move in this vast city built on two continents crossing continents, covering huge distances within the city. You may still relax, take your time and enjoy as long as you go to the right places at the right times. Want to relax? Then hit a side street, take a boat cruise, sit at a cafe on the Bosphorus, immerse yourself in Byzantine times in the quiet of a mosaic museum or watch the beautiful tiles in Blue Mosque. Want to see some city rush and human touch? Then go to Istiklal Street and just watch people pass by.
European side is the business side, Asian the residential. Most people who works at foreign and domestic major corporations have left the city center for a life in the far suburbs where big gated communities, or even small scale cities in peripheries of Istanbul and are commuting daily to the city center. But they sure are missing the center!
Where ever you go, one thing is for sure: there’s something strange about this city. May be it is because it has seen three empires in its long history: East Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. May be it has seen so many kinds of people from different parts of the world: Europe, Middle East, Central Asia, Eurasia, Africa.. Or maybe it is just this strange mix that it offers. A blend of east and west or a fusion of old and new or a combination of traditional and modern. Is Istanbul the furthest east of the west? Or is it just the other way around? Are Turks eastern or western? Is “contrast” an Istanbul born phenomenon?
You have to see it yourself and decide. The Vikings named it Miklagard “big city”, the Slavs called it Tsarigrad, “City of Caesar”, for the Greeks it has been Konstantinapolis. May be you will have a name of your own for Istanbul once you get to see this place. The thing is: you have to see this place.