Its one of the most awe inspiring cities of the world. It is a concoction of the old & the new, the east & the west, Europe & Asia. My husband and me were staying in Sultanahmet – the old area of Istanbul. Its charming, beautiful and the atmosphere is magical. During the day, its buzzing with tourists and is crowded, but at night its gets relatively empty. We wanted to enjoy the nightlife of Istanbul, so we decided to head towards Istikal street.
It is located between Taksim square and the tunnel in the Beyoglu district. The street was packed with people. We started walking, trying to absorb the vibrant atmosphere.We noticed a lot of cops on the street. It never occurred to us that something was wrong. We were curious, but we were more interested in finding Nevizade – the party lane. We asked one shopkeeper, where this lane was, and he asked us to go straight and then take the second right. After 5 mins of walking we heard a loud bang and then a gunshot, and then we saw hundreds of people running towards us. We looked at each other, turned around and we also started running. There was definitely something wrong.
After a few minutes, everything seemed normal again. We turned back and started walking towards Nevizade. This time we stopped again at the same shop to ask what was going on? The man smiled and said that its a game and that we should not worry and just go. Well, it definitely didn't seem like a game. Anyways, we walked and we reached nevizade. There were many cafes and restaurants. We decided to walk till the end of the lane and then decide where to sit. Before we could reach the end, we saw a group of people with red cloth over their face, walking in our direction. They were shouting some slogans, which for obvious reasons we could not understand. It wasn't a very comfortable situation. I wanted to go back. We heard another gun shot. I was petrified. We started walking fast in the opposite direction. We Took the first cab we saw and escaped to Sultanahmet. What a relief!!
It was only when we reached our hotel, later in the night, we found that what we had witnessed was an anti government protest. It was a clash between the protesters and the police over a new internet law. And locals usually are hesitant to talk about political issues. Perhaps, they don't want tourism to suffer in Istanbul.