Istanbul Travelogue: Day 7

May 1, 2007 at 8:49 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Eventful morning we had. James and I set off for the bus out to the City Walls, but when we got to Taksim Square, we were met by about 1,000 policemen in full riot gear–batons, helmets, tear gas, shields. No buses appeared to be running. Thankfully they let us through, and we took a detour down a sidestreet, thinking we’d catch the tram instead. On the way, a police helicopter buzzed overhead. As we neared the tram stop near the edge of the Bospherous, we heard a commotion and saw more police in riot gear. No trams were running, either. On the other side of the street, we saw about 50 or so demonstrators making their way up the street, and behind us, the police were lining up to block the street. I pulled out the camera once the water cannon started firing into the crowd. That crowd dispersed, and the police started chasing them down the street–thankfully, on the opposite side we were on. Then, as we made our way further, people started running on either side of us down the sidewalk. We turned around and saw another group of demonstrators making their way down the street toward us. And then they started running. So then we started running. We found this stairway on the right that we climbed up…and then the crowd followed us. It was a wide staircase, so we stepped off to the side while they raced up. The police backed off, and we managed to get down to the Galata Bridge without further incident. Police and armored vehicles lined the street all the way there and across the bridge. Still no mass transit, so we walked all the way to Sultenahmet. We found out later what was going on–May 1 is the anniversary of a big riot, and the police were pre-emptively trying to prevent any violence this year. You can read more here:

James and I skipped the City Walls today and instead saw the Cistern, Hagia Sophia, and the Archeology Museum. See our photos. Our favorite was the Cistern, and we got some great photos. Loving this new camera.

We ate dinner at an outdoor restaurant by the Hagia Sophia. I tried a new dish–meat wrapped in pasta and drenched in a yogurt sauce. Very tasty, and it might be my new favorite. Thankfully the trams were running by the time we were ready to head back to the hotel, and the police were being bussed out of Taksim square as we walked out. Yes, I said bussed. We asked the concierge at the hotel what all the hubbub was about, and he was like, “Oh, it’s just May 1.” Turks are funny.



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  1. Sweeet! I was wondering if you guys would see any protests, what with all the PM/govt shit going on in Turkey. Mmmm. Civil unrest.

    • We’ve been seeing smaller protests almost everyday in Taksim Square. They were even handing out Turkish flags along Isticlal street. We almost picked one up, but then James reminded me of the cardinal rule of the State Department: if there are people standing around waving flags, best to head the other way lest you get arrested.

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