I flew from Croatia to Istanbul three days ago and have spent my time touring the city and attending some environmental economics sessions. I want to share some impressions of Istanbul.
1. The city is "greener" than I expected. We are lucky to be here at a time when the temperature is quite cool. I had expected that local PM10 and dust levels would be higher. The air quality is good. The vehicle stock is newer than I expected. Rome, Italy smells worse from their cars' emissions. The main river is cleaner than I expected. On our boat ride, groups of dolphins were happily swimming away. Unlike in Rome, I have not seen piles of garbage stacked around. I recognize that I may be spending my time in the richer part of town but I still like these features. There are stray dogs and cats walking around and I tried to avoid them.
2. There is a very active night life and I saw no rowdy behavior. In terms of local demographics, this is a young city with thousands of young adults walking in certain districts late at night.
3. You can hear many Americans close to the main tourists sites and there are very aggressive business guys seeking to sell all sorts of stuff to them.
4. I like the food here especially a liquor called Raki.
5. There appears to be an ongoing debate here about balancing the rights of individuals to pursue their religious beliefs while also respecting other groups who do not share such beliefs.