Taksi : let us begin with taxis, (Taksi in Turk because X does not exist in the alphabet), yellow as their American homologues ! In Taksim square, there is a taksi every 3 cars; the square is a crossroads of communication. The taxidrivers, in search of customers, call the pedestrians dragging their steps or the frantic tourists, by honking. Besisdes many foreign tourists pay full price during the day, that is to say the night rate, because they do not understand the difference between 'Gunduz' (daytime) and 'Gece' (night) small lights arranged on the taximeter; but the practised rates are so low for the Europeans that this tithe is not excessive! The night rate, 50 % on top, is applicable between midnight and 6 o'clock in the morning!
behave as inveterate reckless drivers, but others
treat their vehicle with dexterity in the traffic jams
or take incomprehensible but time-saving detours
while others don't know Istanbul at all and it is
then necessary to guide them. But if your car is bumper to
bumper with a taxi in a narrow alley, it is necessary to
negotiate if you do not want to reverse !
In the district of Tophane, a taxidriver hands out a coin to an old man with a moustache, to thank him for regulating the traffic at a dangerous crossroads which the municipality cannot or doesn't want to modify !
But as soon as the end of the afternoon arrives, the number of taxis diminishes with knocking-off time. And if you finally find a free vehicle, it is not rare that the taxidriver refuses to take you if you do not go in the same way as he does !
It is hell by rainy weather in the ice-cold winter, when the roads are flooded with muddy waters and the cars splash you. Then taking taxis by storm is a rare thing !
'dolmus' (pronounce dolmouche) are collective taxis which always
go along the same route between two points of the city and which
leave only when they are full. The origin of their name :
'dolmus' which means full up . Not so long ago this role was held
It is funny to get into these vehicles for the first time, so accidentally if you find yourself in the middle of the vehicle, you will be asked by a pat on the shoulder by the persons at the back to hand in their fare to the taxidriver, then in the other direction in order to hand in their change. Solidarity between travelers is complete. As soon as the demand for taxis increases, this dolmus is straightaway transformed into a taxi, by rainy weather for example!
Subway : the subway of Istanbul was inaugurated in October, 2000. So it is a recent means of transport for Istanbul inhabitants ; and besides, in spite of communication campaigns , it has not yet been accepted by the Turks! Maybe they are simply afraid of earthquakes during the journey or then, they are put off by the depth of the subway, due to the hilly landscape of Istanbul ! Whatever the case may be, Istanbul dewellers can be proud of their subway because it is beautiful, but am I objective? It was built by the French !
But on these boats a whole life is revealed the time of a dozen of minutes'crossing ! The traveler chooses his place, either for the sight, or to take advantage of the sun, or to shelter from bad weather, or still to stay in front of the door to be the first one to jump out even before the boat has been moored. And then it is the moment to sample a 'salep' (boiling-hot drink the base of which are bulbs of orchids) in winter or an orange juice freshly pressed or simply a 'simit' (bread with sesame seeds) that one can share with the troop of gulls which follow the boat, all these are proposed by a boy in a white jacket walking across the decks of the boat in search of customers. Others boys, unofficially, take advantage of the occasion to try to sell glasses, newspapers or gadgets with forceful demonstration. The traveler, a prisoner, is forced to undergo every one of these commercial practices ; the Turks are patient and easy to please !
But if during the crossing all this life annoys you, you can take a smaller boat but which leaves only once it is full up, like a dolmus of the sea. But beware ! If a passenger indicates dolphins to port, do not rush toward this side of the boat, one has already seen skiffs overturn this way !