Memory has a strange way of attaching a feeling to a place when traveling. I remember Indonesia’s tiny island of Raha, for example, as one of the loneliest places in the world. This has nothing to do with the island itself, really, but everything to do with my mindset as I wandered those dusty streets.
Istanbul is strange for me in this regard, then, because I’ve visited there so many times in the last year or so. Individual parts of town take on in my mind the characterization of whatever feelings I experienced while I was there for the first time.
In what Orhan Pamuk describes as an already melancholic city (which description itself is likely more a characterization of the writer than the place), my most personally melancholic area is undoubtedly the waterfront around Kumkapi.
I first wandered through this part of town in a funk, speaking to noone and take photos only from afar. The area itself is lovely, with views over the Bosporus and plenty of families having picnics in the park. Yet every time I return, the feeling does too.
So I walk, generally without interacting, through the Fish Market and Turkmenistan Park and past remnants of Istanbul’s city walls. Occasionally to sit in the shadow of the Sultanahmet Minarets with a powerful Turkish Tea.
Sometimes with a fresh juice, fish sandwich, or those lovely raw oysters. More often just for the stroll.
Because no matter what the emotion is, Istanbul is a city that seems somehow to evoke strong feelings and deep thoughts regardless of which neighborhood I happen to be in at the time.
Kumkapi is a fine place to wander on your own two feet. If you’d prefer a guided bike tour, though, check out GetYourGuide.