Friday, December 7, 2012

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere I go in Istanbul!

Now, I know it’s not actually Christmas. Turks do not celebrate Christmas. All the Christmas-y decorations are to celebrate the New Year.

But in my opinion, if it looks like Christmas and acts like Christmas, it’s definitely Christmas!
This is what Abdi İpekçi Caddesi in Nişantaşı looks like right now.
This year will be our first time EVER to celebrate Christmas in Turkey away from our friends and family members back home. We visited the U.S. in October and celebrated an early holiday with them. It seems like plenty of our friends also will be here in Istanbul so I think it’s still going to be a festive time.

I often walk from Beşiktaş up through Nişantaşı to get to the metro stop at Osmanbey. I started noticing all the Christmas decorations about two weeks ago. This week, I took a longer stroll through Nişantaşı and took photos of all the decorated storefront windows. You'll also find plenty of stores that are selling (often) overpriced, imported Christmas decorations.
Mudo Concept is by far the best location where you can buy Christmas decorations and trees. But again, these items come with a price tag. For example, a 5-foot tree was 275 tl!
Walking through Nişantaşı, you would never even know you are in Turkey! This wealthier neighborhood features all the fancy-pants stores of Cartier, Tiffany, Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, etc. I swear you’d almost think you were on 5th Avenue in my beloved NYC!
Nişantaşı is by far not your typical Turkish neighborhood. There are a couple places I like to frequent such as Kantin, a lokanta known for its incredible, seasonal food; Mama’s and Cento per Cento for decent Italian-style pizza; Şütte for its Italian domuz and imported cheeses and Bahar Pastanesi for its divine pastries.

But right now, Nişantaşı is a lovely place to stroll through and enjoy the Christmas lights, trees and decorations. 

It makes an expat like myself feel right at home in Istanbul.
All Happy Days is a cute store to wander through. I like to look but not buy!
Beymen is a fancy Turkish department-like store.
Damas - a jewelry store.
Another Christmas-y store window located on Şakayık Sokak.
At Lovells, located on Güzelbahçe Sokak, you can buy holiday chocolates.
This chocolate store is located directly across the street from Lovells.
Many of the Christmas items, like this one at Nezih Bookstore, are in English. This store actually has some cheap Christmas ornaments.
I thought this photo was funny with all the Efes beer kegs located outside the fancy restaurants and stores in Nişantaşı.
Red and green champagne glasses at Pasabahce. This is like a Crate & Barrell store. I love it!
Vakko's decorated storefront window.

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Anonymous said...

I had some great PORK CHOPS at Kirinti on Abdi Ipek Caddesi!

Julia said...

Well that's made me feel all festive. We have lots of Christmas style events here but none of the shops do Christmas displays. Loved these photos.

The Bell-Russo Family said...

beautiful photos! though not Istanbul residents, we loved our visit back to Istanbul last Christmas and New Year's with all the decorations and holiday spirit. Starting with a lovely Christmas Eve service at Istanbul's Christ Church through colorful decorations everywhere we turned, it was a wonderful place to send the holidays for our family. Happy holidays!

Joy said...

@Julia, haven't heard of many Christmas-y events! But still happy to see the decorations here.

@The Bell-Russo Family, good to hear from you Becky and Jeff! Yes, I remember. We just missed you guys last year. Looks like we will be calling Istanbul home for Christmas and I'm certainly not disappointed!

Debbie said...

Joy, thanks for sharing these photos. I've always loved walking through Nişantaşı at Christmas time for just this reason. Did alot of the merchants decorate a tree outside their shop this year? They usually do it with a theme related to their store, and I always enjoy seeing how creative they get!

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing these beautiful & festive photos - I miss my old neighborhood! Wishing Jason & you a wonderful Christmas & new year ahead ~

BacktoBodrum said...

There are one or two lights up in Bodrum but nothing like this yet. Once the Noel fairs and bazaars start though we'll be feeling more festive.

Carolyn Abiad said...

Lovely photos! I love to see Istanbul dressed up like that. :)

Sue Narayan said...

Lovely photos and text! (I've actually been working on the same blog topic.) The way Christmas mixes things up here is inspiring.

Erica (Irene) said...

Great all the festive windows and displays....makes you feel not so homesick. Thanks for sharing. :-)

Joy said...

@Debbie, Glad you enjoyed! I haven't noticed the special trees that you mentioned yet. I'll keep a look out for them!

@Arpita, same to you guys back in NYC! Happy holidays.

@BacktoBodrum, I'd love to see what other parts in Turkey look like too during this time.

Ozlem's Turkish Table said...

So festive, so Christmassy!:) My sister has a "Christmas tree" for new year in Istanbul and all my Turkish friends love the decorations. Glad makes you feel all festive, have a good one!

Unknown said...

It's such a far cry from the Turkey I came to in the 70's when there was absolutely nothing and to be a foreigner here was to feel absolutely desolate. It was an isolating feeling to see people out on the street and to know that for them, that day ie the 25th, was just another day. So how things have moved on! It is a million times better! But Turks can never get Christmas, what it means to us: it isn't just the decorations or the presents. There is that whole deeply-ingrained-from-childhood thing which is what it is all about.

Joy said...

@Ozlem, thank you! Happy holidays back to you in the UK!

@Claudia, I've heard the stories from some of the longer time gals too. I can only imagine how Istanbul has changed since the 70s! I grew up in a Christian household so Christmas had another meaning entirely too. I just like seeing a bit of "home" for the holidays. :-)

Manya said...

Thanks for posting these pictures, Joy. I never get to Istanbul in the winter, but would like to. It's usually overrun with tourists when I go. Inshallah, someday I shall own a little apartment in the southwest of Turkey and will have my grandkids over for the holidays. Nişantaşı has quite the upscale decorations! Lovely. I would loveto taste your Feast of Seven Fishes with hamsi.

Karen said...

What a fun, festive post. Thanks for the tip on where to buy ornaments too. Merry Christmas, Joy!

fatima said...

I'm in expat in Istanbul right now. I'm from Canada and really missing home especially the Christmas/New Year holidays. I'm living in Levent, what would you suggest I do or where to go to make it feel more Christmas-y? Thanks for your help and lovely blog. I just ran into it, and definitely going to start following!


Joy said...

@Fatima, sorry for delay. Just catching up after the holidays! If you're missing Christmas in Istanbul, try strolling through Nişantaşı or stopping by the Pera Palas Otel or the Swissotel. Also the side streets in Eminonu and all the big malls here are full of Christmas/New Year's decorations. Enjoy the holidays as best as you can!

Joy said...

@Manya, thanks for stopping by! Your idea of a beach house along the SW coast of Turkey sounds divine. :-)

Annie said...

Yay - Love Christmas market season! Your photos make it look so fancy!!