At the western end of the silk route, Istanbul 2013

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The Süleymaniye Mosque from 1550 as seen from the Galata bridge
across the water of the Golden Horn. To the left, a corner of the Egyptian Spice market

Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro, Istanbul 2013

The Süleymaniye Mosque

Crossing the Galata bridge from Pera towards the Old City part of Istanbul, the Süleymaniye Mosque dominates the skyline. It dates to the 1550s and the era of the Ottoman Empire.

As with other imperial mosques in Istanbul, the Süleymaniye Mosque was designed as a complex with adjacent structures to service both religious and practical needs. The original complex consisted of the mosque itself, a hospital, primary school, public baths, a Caravanserai, four Qur’an (ethics and moral) schools, a religious (hadith) school, a medical college, and a public kitchen which served food to the poor. Continue reading “At the western end of the silk route, Istanbul 2013”

Istanbul end terminus of the Orient Express

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The Sirkeci Terminal in Istanbul, by the Golden Horn,
marks the end terminus of the noted Orient Express railroad line.

Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2013

The Orient Express, was the first long-distance passenger train service to connect the Orient with Europe. It began its operation in 1883 and in various forms continued to operate until 2009, after which the “Orient Express” disappeared from European ordinary railway timetables, reportedly a “victim of high-speed trains and cut-rate airlines”. In fact, the Orient Express had stopped serving Istanbul already in 1977.

The Orient Express ran between Paris and Istanbul, the original endpoints, sometimes listing ‘Londres’ as a starting point however there were no rails between London and Paris at that time. Istanbul or Constantinople was its easternmost destination and eastern terminus.

The golden age of this service was the 1930s with three parallel services with sleeper cars running between various destinations, providing the very real service of connecting continental Europe from one edge to the other. It was during this time, the Orient Express acquired its reputation for comfort and luxury, carrying royalty, nobility, diplomats, business people, probably spies, and the rich and privileged in general.

The Orient Express eventually became synonymous with intrigue and luxury travel also through literature such as the Agatha Christie’s 1934 novel, Murder on the Orient Express and was felt to attract guests as varied and mysterious as from their lands of origin as from their interesting conversations, as for example between Sigmund Freud and Gertrude Stein.

It was also the first of its kind to have sleeper cars furnished with dark polished wood and velvet bed covers, that defined luxury traveling of the golden age of travels.
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Pera Palace Hotel, Istanbul 2013

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Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul was built at the end of the 19th century
to host the passengers of the Orient Express.

Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2013

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, Pera Palace Hotel Istanbul courtyard

From the hotel outdoor terrace we had a splendid view over the old City of Istanbul,
straight across the Golden Horn.

The original Orient Express was a normal international railway service that began in 1892, the name of which has become synonymous with intrigue and luxury. The two original endpoints were Paris and Istanbul. Here at the easternmost terminus the Pera Palace Hotel was built also in 1892 to house its passengers. The hotel is located on the Pera side of Istanbul overlooking the Golden Horn and with a panoramic view over old Istanbul. It is within walking distance from İstiklal Cad, one of Istanbul’s more elegant shopping streets and lies within walking distance of the European and Russian consulates, being just downhill from the Swedish consulate that was built here already in the mid 18th century.

The hotel is filled with memories and mysteries of the Orient, much of which can be traced in writing, in literature and fantasies of the 19th century. The original chandeliers and the oriental rugs are all here, feeling plush against your toes. Immediately when you enter the Hotel, you feel whisked back into the romantic era of the Orient Express. Even more so, if you sit down in the Orient Bar and enjoy the atmosphere, and maybe order that whiskey sour that was the favourite drink of Ernest Hemingway when he stayed here. Continue reading “Pera Palace Hotel, Istanbul 2013”

Çay içer misin? Drinks that carry culture in Istanbul, 2013

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On the Bosphorus ferry carrying you from Europe to Asia, tea, coffee and orange juice
are offered as refreshments amongst hundreds of passengers.

Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2013

Whether seated on the ferry along the Bosphorus, in a narrow cobblestone paved side passage coffee stall or just standing in a street corner with a cup in hand, the drinking of hot beverages makes up part of the vibrant daily fabric and colourful streetfood lifestyle of old Istanbul.

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Istanbul’s street foods and the Karaköy fish market

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, Karaköy, Istanbul.

One of the more refreshing of drinks available in the city of Istanbul, is freshly squeezed orange juice you can easily find along the streets.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2013

The days in Istanbul found me drawn to the various available street foods the city had to offer, despite being warned by some local friends to not eat street food:

“And what is that? Roasted chestnuts?” I asked in enthusiasm.
“Yes. But that – you do not want to eat that.”
“And how about those breads? They look good.”
“That – is something you can buy also in the cafés. Go there instead. Not the street vendors. They are completely not healthy!”

Still, when alone, I couldn’t help but exchange coin for bread or coin for boiled corn whilst roaming the cobbled streets of this historically rich city.
Continue reading “Istanbul’s street foods and the Karaköy fish market”

Jenga off Taksim Square, Istanbul

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro at Uçanev, İstiklal Cad

Round of Jenga with Ozi.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2013

İstiklal Cad is a lively street located in one of the most modern areas of Istanbul. This evening, it was a matter of whether it was crowded, or very crowded. Weekends are almost impossible to navigate with so many people wanting to take in the sights and sounds of one of the city’s most elegant walkways, filled with shops, cafés, bars and clubs from old to new.

I found myself in the company of a group of engineering students from the ERASMUS program of Istanbul University. Being an international group, we communicated across languages with some hand gestures. They navigated the crowded street in determined steps, as easy as fish in water that knew the streams of movement well. I had no clue where I was headed, except that it was according to them, a popular university student hang-out with cheap food, cheap beer and good music, all elements tailored for their purposes. I tried to keep up with the stream best I could.

“Do you play?”

“Play? Play what?” I shot back.

But there was no time for answer because I was immediately thereafter swept into a narrow blue wooden door that looked in desperate need of repair, up a winding staircase to land first at the third floor of this narrow shophouse, then back to the second floor where more students seemed to have nestled themselves.
Continue reading “Jenga off Taksim Square, Istanbul”