Istiklal Street

  • Sunday 14th April 2012

Istiklal Street (İstiklâl Caddesi in Turkish) is Istanbul's premier shopping street. It can be said that this is Istanbul's equivalent of London's Oxford street. This pedestrianised street is three kilometers of Shop, cafes, pubs, cinemas, night clubs, theatres, boutiques, galleries and restaurants. It was really busy and occasionally difficult to walk due to the sheer number of people trying to pass simultaneously.

WARNING: We took a taxi from our hotel to Istaklal street. Before leaving, I asked the hotel desk how much the taxi fare would be for this journey. He told us that the charge would be at most 15TL. We caught a passing taxi just outside the hotel. I told him were we wanted to go. He seemed in a hurry, hustled us all in and put our stroller in the boot without even folding it. Since the stroller was open, the boot wouldn’t shut despite his forcefully trying to close it. He was about to leave when i pointed out he should start the meter. He said the meter wasn't working and showed me a handwritten price list. I told him to stop and that we were going to leave, since I was not happy about using a taxi without a working meter. On seeing me adamant to leave he told me clearly he would charge 15 TL. Since we were all inside the taxi and he had assured me that he would charge the going rate, I agreed to go ahead. He drove at a incredibly fast pace, weaving through traffic as one does in a racing car game. I was OK with this, even though it freaked out the other passengers.  Throughout the journey he managed to have friendly conversations with us all. When we arrived at our destination I handed him the agreed-on 15 TL. That’s when things changed. First, he refused to take the money. He said the charge was 50 TL and that that’s what he told me. He showed me the meter, which was now miraculously working. It was reading 57 TL. He said he’d give me a discount and only charge me the 50 TL. I told him he’d agreed on 15 and that’s all I was paying him. On hearing this, his tone changed and he became more aggressive, now demanding 50 TL and even threatening to call the police. I told him, No problem, call the police and let them decide—there’s no way I’m paying you any more than the 15 TL we agreed on. In the end, he started cursing me in Turkish, aggressively grabbed the 15 TL from my hand and drove off.

Most people would have given in and paid him what he wanted, seeing how aggressive he had become, but I stood firm knowing I was right and he was trying to con me. For a brief moment, this incident put a damper on the trip. Until then we had been having a wonderful time in this great city. This man made me think: How low can people get that they start cheating those who help them feed their households?
Just to clarify, not all taxi drivers in Istanbul are like this one. I made five other taxi journeys and all those drivers were superb.

Taksim Square

The monument of the Republic.

Heading towards Istiklal street from Taksim Square.

It's busy.

very busy

Cinema and restaurants.

The second pizza hut restaurants next to United Colors of Bennetton store.

The historical red tram that passes through the middle of the street, running between Taksim square and Tünel .

I've never seen a busier shopping street. Absolutely crazy.
One needs to good navigating skills to pass the hordes.

Some random store shots.

A small stall selling chocolate.

Where there were modern stores there where some older shops too.

Meat being barbecued.

The healthy Salad station only had one customer. Such shame!

Nuts and Turkish delight sold here.

Galatasaray Square

Historical red tram again.

Two street sweeper relaxing outside a store displaying the Muppets.

Poor worm!

We spent an hour having our meal and when we came out it was dark.....Still the crowd were out in full force.

A random side street off Istiklal street.

Mango store.

Turkish restaurant.

Some nice looking food.

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