Waking up in Istanbul

July 13, 2012 22 Comments »

New Mosque in Istanbul at sunrise

The New Mosque in Istanbul is occupied by pigeons in the early morning.

One of the best times to really see a city is the wee morning hours as the sun wakes up the homes, hills, and waterways with it’s golden glow. Commuters in Istanbul slowly move through their familiar paces and make their way to offices, mosques, stores, and stalls.

I woke up early and wandered aimlessly around the ferry docks watching commuters pour off of boats and through the back streets of the Spice Market. In the early morning hours, it looks quite different – it’s softer. Men drink tea and have their morning breakfast reading the paper and socializing with their friends and workmates. People smile at me, but don’t say a word. Trucks clamor through the narrow streets delivering inventory before the groups of tourists show up to deplete the inventory once again.

This is the Sultanahmet area – the major tourist meca of Istanbul before it’s touristy veneer is put on. As I walked through the Spice Market before it was opened most merchants ignored me, something that would never happen a mere hour later in the day. Yet as I neared the end of one of the corridors, it started, “Lady, you want some spice? Come look, come look.” I felt like Cinderella listening to the 9th bell toll at midnight, my magic morning Istanbul was disappearing in 3 more rings. But until then, I would enjoy every last moment of this insider morning experience.

2 men unload a fruit truck

Two men unload a fruit truck

sunrise over the Bosphorus

Sunrise over the Bosphorus before the ferries make it a super highway

Man cleaning the stairs of the new mosque

A man hoses off the stairs of the new mosque while pigeons look forward to dirtying it again

The tram runs down an empty street

The tram runs through the heart of Sultanahmet, but in the mornings the streets are empty

man shining shoes on the corner

A man shines shoes on the corner before the crowds

An empty alley

An quiet alleyway – before the storm of shoppers

man organizing his mushroom display stops for a tea break

A man organizing his mushroom display pauses for a tea break

cinnamon at the spice market

Soft early sunshine lights up the spices in the market

men drinking tea

Men take breaks and drink tea and chat with friends before opening stalls

man hanging disco balls

A man hangs up disco balls outside his shop

two men at the entrance of the spice market

Two young men read their paper at the entrance to the spice market

taxi drivers socialize

Taxi drivers socialize waiting for customers to get off the ferry

man replenishes inventory in the spice market

A man replenishes the turkish delight inventory in the spice market


View the all photography of waking up in Istanbul:

My stay in Istanbul was made possible by Wimdu. But all opinions expressed here are my own.

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