The tourist season has started, and I always giggle a bit when I see them coming off the boat in my part of town, Üsküdar. They stand there with their travel guide in their hands, looking puzzled at the traffic jam and at the construction works going on for Marmaray, the tube under the Bosporus that is going to connect both sides of the city. I’m sure some tourists just take the first boat back to where they came from, but I would say: give Üsküdar a chance! It’s a famous and, yes, beautiful part of town, but only if you are willing to turn left and right a few times. Where to go? My first suggestion would be: just turn left from the boat, follow the coast road along the Bosporus. Destination: Kuzguncuk, a neighbourhood in Üsküdar. You can take any bus or dolmuş heading north, and ask the driver to drop you at Kuzguncuk about five to ten minutes later –it’s at a traffic light with a pastry shop on the corner. Kuzguncuk is known for its mix of cultures, which is nicely symbolised by the mosque and the church built next to each other a little bit further up the coast road. As well, Kuzguncuk has a very nice square, just right there where you get off the bus, on the left: sit on the benches and order a tea from the corner tea house. If you take the street just across this little square, the street with the taxis on the corner, to your right you will see a Syrian Orthodox church with a quiet courtyard. Wander around the streets here, and you will be amazed by the perfectly restored old wooden houses you come across, the different sorts of people you meet, the dilapidated houses that are somehow attractive too. After that? A bit further down the coast road, in the direction of the Bosporus Bridge, you’ll find two parks with people fishing and having picnics. Join them, there is always a tea guy around and a ray of sunshine to enjoy!
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