Thursday, January 28, 2010


Istanbul is Baku on some serious steroids. I was only there for about 36 hours, but I learned some valuable things about the city in that time:

  1. Nobody ever seems to sleep.
  2. There are more tourists roaming the city on any given day than there are in my hometown.
  3. It must’ve been one bad ass place back in the Constantinople days
  4. The no smoking indoors law actually works
  5. Evidence of modernity is everywhere

The city’s reputation definitely precedes it. Ask almost anyone interested in the Turkic world who has been to Istanbul what they thought of the city and he or she will probably tell you that it’s the greatest city on earth. Those people have obviously not been to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia….

Istanbul has a lot going for it: liberal society, great nightlife, cheap food and alcohol, and a ton of character. You could probably explore the city full-time for six months and still not discover all the little nooks and crannies. And the street food… plentiful and diverse. You could get anything from fish, to mussels, to cow intestines, to “wet burgers”.

But what does the city lack? The whole “popular tourist site” situation doesn’t help. The difference being that Istanbul tourists walk and take public transportation, while their counterparts in Cairo, for example, are mainly on air conditioned buses. Istanbul also lacks the “baladi-ness” of Cairo. Call it my warped sense of charm, but where were all the street cafes with sawdust on the floor? I blame the EU and their strict standards for that.

One thing I do know is that I would give almost anything to be able to be a spice trader in Istanbul in the days when it was the gateway between east and west.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

She's a Beaut

The prospective Lada. In all its Soviet glory.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Istanbul - Part 2

Cafe Street

Fish Market

Asian-side Train Station


Backgammon in the Park

Turkish Bazaar


More fisherman

Friday, January 08, 2010


Some new projects will be undertaken early this year in Baku, namely the procurement of a beat up Lada that we will attempt to fix (only after befriending a local Lada guru-mechanic that will lend us tools). We'll see how that goes.

Other things that need to get done:

  • an "old timey drinking spot" pub crawl dressed to the nines

  • a tour of the local brewery

  • more gourmet burgers

  • a trip out to the island of Nargin

  • a degustation menu

  • the list should continue to grow as new ideas arise...

Blogging regularity should also increase, provided the above projects actually get going. I also promise to catch up with all the travelling I have done lately, so look forward to posts on Kyrgyzstan, Tuscany, Turkey, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, and Greece.

Happy new year!