If you have lived quite some time in Cologne without a car, you got used to the unreliability of the public transportation provider KVB. Like the Cathedral, it belongs to the Cologne lifestyle. I do not start the “Thank you for traveling with Deutsche Bahn today” discussion now.
To Istanbul, a flight from Cologne or Düsseldorf lasts for more or less 2 hours. Within Istanbul, a ride from Taksim to Kadiköy – the two centers of the centers on the European and Asian site – can take you the same.
The random madness: 14 million people, some distance of streets, alleys and trails (I doubt someone ever counted the length), few more than 10.000 bus stops, a huge fleet, two big and some smaller bridges. Istanbul is huge, but one can reach every, truly every destination. It’s just a question of time though.
Especially in the morning and in the evening (but you cannot really predict it) it is an everlasting Stop-and-Go. Streets are blocked; if it would be a human heart, every cardiologist would do a bypass immediately. The hectic of the city doesn’t get any better. But, what should you as a tiny little person do in the crowd? Lesson Learned: Stay calm, have a cay, watch and enjoy. It takes as long as it takes. Depending on where you are stuck between cars, busses, minibuses and people, you can at least enjoy a nice view: Either a breathtaking impression on the city’s dimension from the highway or a bath in its lights at night.
The attempt to find the one bus stop out of more than 10.000 where one wants to go on the internet on IETT website can turn out into an afternoon project. One of the nice bus routes is No. 42 from Taksim via Besiktas to Bahceköy. This “Fisherroute” goes up the Bosporus on the European side and stops by Bebek. I am still waiting for the one bucket with the fished treasure to tumble over. Rather go to the street and ask for directions, it’s more fun und mostly directs you to your destination – or you discover parts of the city by chance. Don’t trust the directions fully since the random, sweat hearted Turk always gives you some direction, doesn’t matter if he or she knows it. Nevertheless, you have to trust their way to drive. If some of you had been driving in a smaller vehicle than a minibus and joined a Turk for a ride, you know what I am talking about. The mood is like the one of a Besiktas fan when they play (and lose) against Fenerbahce and the interaction of gear and break follows the strategies “Who’s the fastest“ and “Close shave, but close enough!”. Even though violating the traffic rules, it’s working out. Haven’t seen any serious accident so far, but scratches do not count 😉 So far, I have always reached my destinations in one piece.
Dolmus busses are a nice alternative way to travel. The private minibuses do not operate by schedule, usually they go when they are fully loaded. It goes from A to B, but you can ask to stop wherever you want. In there, you meet the funniest people. I wonder how many friendships have been made in a Dolmus. Sometimes (and I will have an entry on that later, too) some Turkish man are a little too nice and seek for close body contact in the bus or train. Make sure you hit them in the right body part if they do not stop touching after having told them to leave it.
Whenever possible, I avoid streets. Thanks to train, metro and ferries my strategy works out pretty well. Train and metro are developed well on the European side, in Anatolia there is one track each and the mobility system mainly operates by bus and dolmus. Starting Point of trains in Europe is Sirkeci. In the end of the 19th century, the Orientexpress departed and arrived there. In Asia, it starts from Hardarpasa; the Stations building was a present from Wilhelm von Bismarck to the Ottomans. The Main Coach Station Otogar (Bayrampasa) and Atatürk Airport in Europe are connected to the City with Metro and Busses; Sabiha Gökcen Airport in Asia to Kadiköy by bus. Both airports can be reached with Airport shuttles Havatas, too.
For old-things-lovers: some antique wagons, the Tünel train, goes back and forth between Taksim and Tünel underneath the lights who are hanging the whole year and remind one of Christmas Lights. Then, you have the Old-Fashion underground train going from Karaköy to Tünel saving you from climbing up the Galata Tower but missing some nice shops shopping. On the Asian Side, an old red train goes from KadiköyIskele to Moda.
My favorite is and always will be the trip between the continents, from Asia to Europe and reserve. The ride across the bridge makes me smile every single time again, buy my favorite vehicle is the ferry – couldn’t imagine any nicer one. I have no clue how many pictures I have taken. It’s amazing on the Bosporus. In 20minutes, you have a cay in this tiny little glass, sit outline gambling if a wave his you or one of the 7676713460873 sea gulls who follow the ferry’s way bears you company. On a lucky day, you might spot some dolphins. Be back on this topic later!
Puplic transportation (ferry and Teleferik included) can be used with single Jettons (sometimes called tokens) or the IstanbulCard that is rechargeable