I was really looking forward to being in Istanbul to recover from the last few weeks of hitting the road hard. I was beyond grateful that my cousin Erich, and his wife Betul, came through with a free place to stay in Üsküdar. It was a place I called home for the next 19 days.
The first week my main priority was getting healthy, so as much as I wanted to go exploring in the city of two continents and over 20 million people, by far the largest city I've been to, I had to pace myself.
I needed to get better if I was going to continue to travel. I knew from my time on my bike that small issues can quickly become larger ones that ultimately stop you in your tracks completely, so I went to a local physician who prescribed me antibiotics to help kill my sinus infection. As much as I was worried about how a doctor's visit would be in a foreign country, it was all very simple. I gave cash (299 TL = $100), they gave me treatment. I have travelers insurance but I have to file a claim in order to be reimbursed (dough! which reminds me I still have to do). My antibiotics eventually ended up working, I'll though I still have a little fluid build up in my right ear. Hopefully it goes away soon.
While on the mend I decided, if I couldn't tour the entire city I would at least get to know my neighborhood (Üsküdar). Üsküdar lies on the Asian side of Istanbul, which is by far the more conservative side, specifically in Üsküdar. A couple examples are there are very little bars and the vast majority of women are wearing the headscarfs. Although I probably favored the European side for all the historical sites and energy, I loved coming back to Üsküdar where I felt less stressed by all the people and was much more at home.
While during my stay I was pleased to hear the NY times just wrote an article on the Asian side. Here it is in case you'd like to read the article, click here.