Escaping the hottest month

It’s Ramazan and it’s hot. Forgive me, humid. In any case it’s not the best of times to be in a cramped city of 15 million … or is it that 18 million? Everything is a bit of a blur right now. Anyway, the days are a real test for everyone in the city, especially those observing the fast. As I’m not, the challenge is finding someplace cool and welcoming where you can eat and drink without feeling like you’re rubbing it in people’s faces.

That’s why I headed to Kadıköy yesterday. It meant I was able to take a nice cool vapur ride from Karaköy and let the sea winds soothe my sweaty brow. Being a pretty liberal, laid-back environment, it seemed like a good place to drink something cool under an awning. As a rule I’ve always found Turks observing the fast to be stoic and tolerant for their 30-days of restraint, but this year will be even harder than last, as the sunrise to sunset period is even longer and the days are hotter, and it doesn’t seem very courteous to be quaffing a bottle of cold water in any old street when those surrounding you have hours before they can quench their own thirst and appetite.

The converse side, however, is that many people, even those observing the fast, run businesses dependent on food and beverage sales and obviously see a dip in daily business during Islam’s holiest month. In the market area of Kadıköy there were certainly no shortage of open tables compared to the previous week, especially at normally bustling locations such as Çiya.

I’ve really started to enjoy this part of town recently. It’s not too touristy and it’s got a spirited, young feel. There are plenty of bookstores, antique shops, independent and inexpensive cafes, and the sights sounds and smells of the market area can be an intriguing diversion before I stop and continue my quest to drink the ultimate cup of Turkish coffee.

One of this Anatolian neighborhood’s greatest draws however, is that it requires me to hop aboard the best kind of transportation on hot summer days — a vapur. The trip to and from Kadıköy is always a highlight and a relief from the heat. I sometimes think of spending an entire day on the ferry as I might just feel at my best on the water.

Anyway, the fare is ridiculously cheap, and you could just bounce back and forth from port to port, drinking black tea and enjoying nature’s most natural form of air conditioning. Tempting thought on a sweltering summer’s day, isn’t it?