I’ve only been to Istanbul.
What surprised me most was how much like Athens it felt. Especially Kadıköy. The same rickety elevators in apartment buildings, the same scenes of young people hanging out in outdoor cafés, the same traffic chaos. Even the same layouts and typographic excesses in newspapers.
- How exceptional the food was. As I took to saying: Turkish food is just like Greek food, only good.
- How well Turkey was doing economically. A country that does major infrastructure works like the Marmaray has a lot to be proud of—even if it was branded as being to the Greater Glory of Erdoğan.
- How Turkish tea really was everywhere, and Turkish coffee was invisible. My wife, who spent time as a child in Istanbul, immediately started drinking 10 cups a day of bardaklı çay (as I took to calling it, much to the waiters’ amusement).