Every place I visit, I gather a bunch of random impressions, here are mine so far for Istanbul:
– There seem to be no walking rules for navigating a crowd as in most other cities I have been in. (Usually it follows traffic patterns so that people from cultures who drive on the right tend to stay to the right and move to the right of oncoming people, for example). People here cut across in all sorts of diagonals and bump into each other all the time. I can’t get over it, there really seems to be no pattern. In New York and Paris and other places, I can slice through a crowd very easily. Not so here in Istanbul.
– There are more stray cats in this city than any place I have ever been by a wide margin. And people seem to like them, pet them and feed them scraps. It is almost as if the city of Istanbul is one big house, and all of these are pets.
– Since I am staying in an apartment for the month, I thought I would pick up some essentials like shampoo and toilet paper and water. Despite three separate supermarkets or convenience shops I have been to, I can not find toilet paper sold in fewer than 16 roll jumbo packs.
– Hawkers of all kinds seem to leave me alone here (while chasing other tourists with gusto), and people immediately begin by talking to me in Turkish. I think they think I am Turkish. Finally, my hirsute nature pays me a dividend.
– Waffles are bafflingly popular here. Sometimes they make sandwiches out of them. I see signs everywhere. I guess that is true of chestnuts and corn on the cob as well, but for some reason those I can understand more readily.
– Turks seem to hate random garbage in the way of them walking. Several times now I have watched men stop to kick a piece of trash all the way to the side of the street or gutter, not just out of their immediate way. The clean freak in me appreciates this.