Cihangir

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Once upon a lazy afternoon, I ploughed the hilly roads of Cihangir with my broken DSLR on one arm and an aquarium of a handbag on another.

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In it, are what I call my travel essentials. Not my passport, neither a lot of cash (in fact, I only had 90 liras in my pocket), but a book of true travel tales by great fiction writers, an iPod loaded with music given by a lost friend who loved the same kind of music that I do, a power bank, and many other things I probably won’t need but carried as back up.

With that thought in mind, I pondered at the things life brings – how we carry baggages around – including those we don’t need for just-in-case moments; the invisible tons weighing behind our back.

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While writing this, I was seated at a cosy cafe twinkling with jazzy tunes named Kahvedan in a less touristic spot in Istanbul. In fact, I did not see any tourists around at all, except for myself. My DSLR, it says it all; screaming to the eyes of the locals that my middle name is spelt “Foreigner”, with a capital F.

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Cihangir is a name I learned from a punk-looking girl from Canada. She has short, very short, blonde hair and olive green eyes so large they resemble real olives, and tattoos lacing her arms. I never get to know her name but I know she loves cats.

Like everyone else in Turkey, she asked if I was Japanese. Her next guess was Korean. I laughed and answered neither.

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To get to Cihangir, take the tram heading towards Kabatas. I discovered Cihangir on my first trip to Taksim and am forever glad that instead of taking the tram to Kabatas and changing to the funicular, I chose to do some uphill climbing:

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It was the most beautiful and well-spent afternoon of my life. Cats with beaded necklaces taking siestas by the alleys totally ignorant towards the daily bustle, dogs crawling under my skirt or sitting next to me waiting to get a pet or a free neck massage, countless rustic cafes tucked in every corner along the hilly roads . . .

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The people here are very different from Istanbul. The crowds – young, urban, stylish. Most of them come in duos. Sometimes you see a dad and a baby clinging on his neck heading towards the beach, or young lads and their girlfriends with hippie string bracelets on their wrists you wondered where they got them from.

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If there’s one thing Cihangir does to you, it is making you believe that it is possible for simplicity and beauty to coexist at the same time.

Must Try(s) When in Cihangir

1. This ice-cream shop

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{non-fancy deco but fancy ice-cream. Look, it’s even in the papers}

2. Shop at Madame Coco

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{If you can afford to splurge and don’t mind carrying cashmere around, do it}

 

 

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