Day 2- Gulhane Park, Emirgan Park & Istiklal Cd
Trip Start Apr 10, 2011
3Trip End Apr 20, 2011
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Gulhane Park on a chilly spring morning- oh what a delight! Life was like a painting for 1 hour! Tall bare trees with nesting herons, tulip beds in different colours, a chill wind blowing from the Bosphorus alongside...
So many other pretty flowers and other birds (seagulls?) and parrots too high up in the tress, with the backdrop of old ottoman buildings. I was struggling to photograph the herons high up in the trees using my monopod- Malini did get quite irritated with my obsessive attempts, bit finally my investment in the camera and monopod was vindicated when I managed to get some fairly clear shots of the birds.
Came back from Gulhane Park, had breakfast at the hotel and set off to Emirgan Park (by now we were seasoned at catching the tram to Kabatas and the bus from there). The great thing about Istanbul was that we never had to wait for more than 2-3 minutes to get a bus or a tram to any place!
Emirgan Park did not disappoint! Nice that it was non-touristy too. Saw tulips of many different colours. Always so nice to go to parks that are laid out on hills- and this one overlooked a river too- the Bosphorus. The area laid out for the 'group chess game' (see the sign that says Shatranj!) was an exciting find. We bought 3 tulip bulbs from the nursery to bring back to India, but didn't finally attempt it with all the luggage (customs would probably have not allowed it anyway). While leaving the park, we met a very friendly squirrel who was not afraid to come near us to pick up some hazelnuts (luckily we had some hazelnuts left over from the packet Turkish airlines gave us). Very interestingly, he (or she?) would pick up only 1 nut at a time, and eat it only after scampering all the way up the tree and sitting in it precarious nook of twigs! I guess this position on the tree offered it much better production from predatory birds than the green grass...
Check out a video of the squirrel.
Istiklal Caddesi (Street)
Decided to head to Istiklal Caddesi, and went to the bus stop. Met 2 students of Istanbul University there- they told us there was a direct bus to Taksim which came along pretty soon. It was raining quite hard by the time we reached Taksim Square, and we started looking around for Parsifal restaurant (vegetarian)- the GPS on my mobile helped a bit (had been smart enough to buy an offline map- travelbook istanbul before I left India). Istiklal Street is about 3 km long with Taksim at one end and Tunel on another. Quite an interesting place- lots of shopping, restaurants, lot of life on the streets- famous for nightlife, though we didn't catch any part of that. We walked around the cobbled streets, went to cukurcuma street (antique shops too expensive for us). Saw an Indian 2 rupee note at one of the antique shops :-) Check out the photos of Istiklal street below, and the video of the musician and tap dancers!
Video of musician and tap dancers