August 14, 2014

Istanbul: New York City's Twin to the East


There is a parallel New York to the east. 

Istanbul, distinct as is it, bears striking similarities to the Big Apple beginning with its 212-area code. It is also traffic-choked, mesmerizing and love-hated by its residents who tolerate its madness in exchange for its considerable charms -- many of which are tucked into neighborhoods hidden from the guidebook-toting masses. 

The sheer size of the city (which actually tops New York in both area and population) can be intimidating enough to keep visitors from venturing off its tourist circuit. Yet failing to do so is a bit like visiting just midtown and chalking that up to a full New York City vacation. Yes, trips to the Grand Bazaar and Hagia Sophia are as obligatory (and worthwhile) as an out-of-towner's visit to the Statue of Liberty, but a couple days should be set aside for a taste of Istanbul's vibrant downtown and "outer-borough" scene. Some things might even feel a bit like home. 

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