Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Istanbul’

Matador network recently published  “what not to do in Istanbul.” Suggestions to avoid crowds, tourist traps, deal with time constraints and low budgets, partake in local customs. It can be an overwhelming city and a list of what not to do is very helpful.

After seven years in this surprising megalopolis I agreed with very few of the suggestions.

I rarely contribute travel pieces anymore — focusing more on cultural identity work and pursuing hybrid entertainment — but since the tourism season approaches here are the points I see differently:

Emirgan Grove by A.Ashman

Emirgan Grove by A.Ashman

Ø   *Skip Dolmabahçe*. (It’s a 19th century European-style palace and if you’ve ever seen one of those, this won’t be news). No exhibits and you can’t wander by yourself.

√   *Don’t skip Topkapı Palace* and don’t skip the separately ticketed harem tour. (Just go early after a big breakfast like I suggest here). It’s worth seeing the treasury, and the tiled kiosks at the far end of the compound, as well as the kitchens. Also you can pop into the stupendous archaeology museum on the grounds.

√   *Do stay in Taksim* if you want to experience a more authentic Turkish scene. Istiklal is perfect for dining, bar-hopping, strolling, people-watching, cafe-sitting. Some hotels are on raucous streets (travel with earplugs), but not all of them. (Sultanahmet may be close to the historic sites but it’s shark-bait touristy, and lifeless at night.) Taksim is on the Metro line, with a funicular that puts you on the tram to Sultanahmet. The most painless commute in town. Plus, the trek back and forth between old town and Beyoğlu, across Galata bridge, is one you’ll enjoy having to make as my walking tour for National Geographic shows.

√   *Do take a Bosphorus cruise*, just not the overpriced tourist traps from the Eminönü dock. Catch a lovely one hour $5 ferry from the landing behind the Ortaköy mosque like I describe here.

Ø   *Skip the Princes Islands* if the reason you’re getting on a boat is for the views and breezes.  The high speed boats that carry you to the Sea of Marmara have scratched plastic windows you can’t see out of, and you’re not allowed on deck.

Ø   *Don’t accept tea* if you don’t want to spend your time with a particular person, or in a particular place. Don’t confuse a tourism sales tactic with the fabled Turkish hospitality. As a traveler in a big city, it’s still your time, and your choice who you drink tea with. If you’re interested in chatting or shopping, fine. If not, politely decline and keep moving. When hawkers in the bazaar and tourism district are unrelenting a clucking of the tongue and upward roll of the eyes is Turkish for “no, and don’t ask me again”. Plus, apple tea is only for tourists. If you aim to drink tea in a traditional manner, ask for normal black tea.

What would you suggest we *not* do in Istanbul, and why?

This blog has moved. Comment here.

Read Full Post »

We resolve to be different. Fitter. Pay off debt. Volunteer. Clean out that god-forsaken garage. Stepping into a fresh calendar year seems like a chance to try on a colorful persona, yet new year’s resolutions are so often based on territory (and self-images) we already know.

Instead, surprising facets of ourselves are evoked by a novel landscape and our metamorphosis chooses us.
moths by A.Ashman
This year I took charge of my own web presence. A major undertaking requiring vision and planning — but it didn’t rate an end-of-’08 resolution. When I set down a tiny microblogging footprint with Twitter 18 months ago I didn’t foresee 2009’s curated-webpath to my interests and intentions.

Suddenly I was virtually attending conferences like the interactive SXSW and participating in live webchats on branding, innovation, and literature. I became a joiner and a beta-tester, signing on for a month-long experimental blogging course and volunteering for a conference-call-based life design course for expat women entrepreneurs.

I’ve become a full-feathered indie blogger, and a player in the digiventures of others: founder of the group blog to build on hybrid Expat Harem themes so many of us are living, a new media guest blogger, a location-independence blog carnival participant, administrator of a LinkedIn group for creative entrepreneurs using social media, and the curator of a year-long 2010 webcarnival to celebrate Istanbul.

Being proactive in the blogosphere is an epiphany, a 2009 reawakening of my inner student….a time to learn exactly what I need to know — as a writer and publisher, a global citizen and cultural creative in Istanbul  — and contribute to the future of my communities.

What’s your surprise metamorphosis of 2009? Who did you become this year?

[Gratitude to everyone who taught me something in 2009!]

This blog has moved. Comment here.

Read Full Post »

Since the Ottoman royal harems were filled with women from both the Mediterranean and the Baltic — Italian families even casting their daughters on the Adriatic to be picked up by the sultan’s sailors — my Turkish husband jokes he finally brought me back to Istanbul where I belong.

I don’t know, in the span of history and forgotten connections of family, anything’s possible. My Lithuanian family name, echoing a town and river on today’s Belarus border, also sounds a lot like the imperial Turkish bloodline of Osman.

family name derived from this town

As a fourth generation immigrant, I’m so far removed from who and where I come from I’m visited by ghost urges from genes and culture long ago severed. Today I post at expat+HAREM, the global niche about how the mysteries of our extended lineage often crop up as synchronicity, wanderlust, and quirks of taste.

For instance, why does this Northern California girl raised on turkey burgers crave the beet soup borscht? When I feel kinship with my Ukrainian, Estonian, Jewish, Italian and Greek friends, what do their wide brows or brown eyes, their stoicism or talkative personality, remind me of? Do they mirror the mix that is me?

What ethnic or regional mystery reverberates in you?

This blog has moved. Comment here.

Read Full Post »

This week I’ll be speaking with creative entrepreneur Tara Agacayak on a panel about social media for the International Professional Women of Istanbul Network (IPWIN).

The happy trends of Web 2.0 online networking, collaborating, and user-generated content seem tailor-made for pro women like us who often face a more difficult career path abroad. Whether “trailing spouses” lacking a local work permit like Jo Parfitt recounts here or in some other way being at a geographic or cultural disadvantage is a common expat woman experience.

IN AN ATTENTION ECONOMY WE’RE NO LONGER OUT OF SIGHT
We’re used to relying on technology to fill the gaps in our expat operations so social media has the potential to level the playing field for the most far-flung female professionals:

  • Social media works best the way women work best: it’s about making and tending personal connections
  • Social media supports and consolidates the spread-out personal networks expats and global citizens have already initiated in their mobile lives
  • Social media provides access to state-of-the-industry practices, trending thought, and leading players in our professions

So, as social networking renders overseas women like us visible and relevant, it’s a powerful tool of self-actualization. Our presence online becomes an advance calling card in life and work. We’re driven to fine-tune who we say we are, and how we behave, and where we appear online and who we choose to interact with, who our target audience is and how we do business. If we commit to social media, we evolve.

How has social media launched you?

This blog has moved. Comment here.

Read Full Post »

Expatriatism is often a life apart. So how does a writer abroad get up to speed and compete in her home market?

Here’s my answer in a guest post — about the fortuitous intersection of expatriatism, epublishing and digital citizenship — at former Writers Digest editor Maria Schneider’s Editor Unleashed blog.

Are you culturally or geographically challenged? How do you level the playing field?

This blog has moved. Comment here.

Read Full Post »