Tuesday, March 31, 2009

No car...Oh my...

Ever since I have got my driver’s license in March 1987, I have been driving. So, being without a car is a new and somewhat painful experience for me.

For the last 10 years, I always drove a company car and after I quit my most recent job, I decided not to buy a car for a number of reasons:
1. I am obese and I need exercise… Lots of exercise.
2. I live in a part of Istanbul where public transportation is quiet good.
3. Being a frugal person, I like to avoid the costs associated with owning a vehicle at least for a while.

I am sure, I will want a vehicle in the summer for a vacation. My uncle has a 9 year old Honda Civic which needs a little bit attention and fixing. I might be able to borrow that car since he drives another vehicle he owns.

Anyway, ever since I am carless (is this a word?) I had to walk to my dietician. I walked briskly for 30 minutes from my apartment to the hospital where my dietician works. She told me to walk a lot slower because, she does not want me to injure myself. I am quiet heavy.

On the way back, I took a “dolmus” (read dolmush) which is a minibus for public transportation. You can only pay in cash on a dolmus and usually the drivers are nuts and they allow you to stand if the vehicle is full which is something they really should not do. It is extremely dangerous given the traffic in Istanbul and also a traffic violation. The one I took had empty seats and that’s why I took it. I usually avoid this type of transportation. However, it was only 75 kurus which is three quarters of a Turkish Lira (less than 50 cents US) so it was well worth it.

Today I needed to do some grocery shopping and although there is a small one right by my apartment, I wanted to go to another. This grocery store has a free shuttle service from where I live so that cost me nothing. The distance? Well, if I wanted to walk there, it would probably take 50-60 minutes. Since I need to walk to and from the bus-stop, I tried not to buy too much stuff which would be very heavy.

I walked for over an hour today and this is quiet good but I will still get on my stationary bike for at least 20 minutes before dinner. I have to make sure, this free time that I have now is well spent.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Dolmabahce Palace


I took the above picture at the Aviary at Dolmabahce Palace... I finally went to see Dolmabahce Palace! Yay for me!

I am surely not gonna get into any detail as to when it was built, who lived there and such. There are tons of resources on the Net for you to learn all that if you are interested and here are a few of those:
1. Wikipedia
2. Palaces of Istanbul
3. Turkey Travel Planner

I took a dolmus (read dolmush) from where I live to Uskudar coast. I took a motorboat from there to Kabatas (read Kabatash) and the palace was about less than half a mile from Kabatas.

It is a pretty big place and probably would take a whole day if you wanted to tour all of it. I took a combined Selamlık and Harem Tour. Selamlık was basically the offices of the Ottoman Sultan. He accepted visitors, ambassadors and government officers, held meetings and entertained at the Selamlık part of the Palace. Selamlık was meant only for men. Harem was the living quarters of his family where no other men was allowed to enter.

You can see the Western and particularly the French influence in decorations. For my taste, it was too much but, I guess it just had to be spectacular and very rich at the time during the Ottoman era. I loved the park surrounding the palace and I guess, in a couple of weeks the flowers will be in full bloom.

The entrance fee is 20 TL (little less than 12 USD) for the combined tour and believe me it is worth every penny.

I relaxed, took a long walk in the park and also toured the palace. I need to go back there to see a couple of pavilions I could not see because I was really tired.

I will post more pictures...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Frugal Istanbul

I had been contemplating about setting up a blog in English for a long time. This sure is a tough job for someone whose native language is not English.

I already have a blog in Turkish and write some articles for another as a guest writer.

Anyway, now that I have ample time due to quitting my job recently, I decided to take a shot at this.

I know it sounds not only stupid but also very un-frugal to quit one’s job given the worldwide economic crisis but, there is only so much stress I was willing to take. The level of stress was so high that, I started having nightmares, my weight and my blood pressure went completely out of whack. I decided to quit and devote all my time to taking care of myself and looking for a new job.

I have been living in İstanbul since August 2000 but, there are many places I haven’t been to yet. Now that I do not have a car anymore (I had been using a company car), I will go around İstanbul like a tourist and share the experience. I will of course make frugal choices and set a grugal example for all who would like to see İstanbul on a budget.

This blog will not only be about frugally touring Istanbul though. I have many other things in mind to share so, we will see how this blog will take shape. I am also on a quest to lose weight and get healthy. This will also be a subject I would like to share here.

Comments will be moderated. This blog is intended for family appeal, therefore the content and comments will be kept appropriate for all ages. I hope you will enjoy reading as much as I enjoy writing.