Autumn in Istanbul, that means you can still now and then enjoy a nice sunny day. But unfortunately: the sea of outdoor seatings in Beyoglu, the heart of modern Istanbul, is gone. Wipes clean by the municipality. There was hope this summer that there would be a new policy for outdoor seating, but no: they are gone forever.
For who has ever been to Istanbul: picture Istiklal Avenue, the longe shopping street starting at the central Taksim Square. The streets left and right of Istiklal, and especially the small streets at the end, have been covered with chairs, wooden stools and tables. People drank there from early afternoon till late at night. Especially students and tourists would pour liters of beer in themselves there. Besides that, there were tea houses too, and outdoor seatings of restaurants with and without permission to serve alcohol.
The trouble was: walking was practically impossible there. Almost every square meter was taken bij a table, stool or chair. When you looked closely, you could see till where exactly till which point at the pavement the outdoor seatings were allowed. And if you looked even better, you didn’t see only bars, thee houses and restaurants, but also shops, galeries and appartments.
Who the hell would live there?, I sometimes wondered when I was having a beer there myself. You can ’t even reach your own front door! And how can you ever sleep at night with all that noise? And those are precisely the stories that could be heard after the municipality broom had done its work. People living in those streets, got crazy of the outdoor seatings, that only got really out of hand the last couple of years. Galery and shop owners got crazy too: when ever they put some info board or banners outside, the bar owners would take them away and replace them with even more stools and tables. Protesting seemed impossible. ‘Catering industry maffia’.
So, now there is now way to have a beer anymore in Istanbul? Of course there is. The bars are open. So you can drink inside. Or outside, in a bar or restaurant with a roof terrace. Or you buy a beer and lay down in the park. The weather is still good enough for it!
Yeah, I know, now that it’s cold and wet, that last sentence seems ridiculous. But I wrote this about five weeks ago, and publication was postponed because of the earthquake in Van.