Category Archives: Europe

Observing Istanbul, the Eternal Capital of the East

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Istanbul, Galata Bridge , May 2018

I had the incredible chance to visit Istanbul twice that year ,back in 2018 . Istanbul really is a place like no other. Spanning over two continents, the city’s exceptionally unique position is just one of the many ways Istanbul brims with juxtapositions. Although Turkey’s most-visited city exudes an eclectic modernity, the country’s deep-rooted history, culture and tradition still remains undeniably prevalent. For some who know very well the city, Istanbul still remains as the eternal capital of Turkey.

Life starts early in the morning at Galata Bridge in Istanbul. The unique spirit of the bridge is still preserved today—with fishermen, tourists, and tea and bagel salesmen.

The Galata Bridge is an Istanbul landmark that connects the newer parts of the city, including Karaköy and Beyoğlu, with the historic old parts of Eminönü and Sultanahmet. The bridge has been frequented by fishermen for over a decade, and boasts some of the city’s best fish vendors and views.

The bridge welcomes both professionals, those who have frequented it for years, amateurs, and enthusiastic beginners alike. Amateurs are eager to learn the right time and the right place to catch fish.

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Istiklal or Istiqlal CD, street Istanbul, May 2018

Built during the Ottoman Empire, the Istiklal street, literally the independance road, was originally known as Grande Rue de Pera, until it was renamed by the new Turkish Republic in the early 19th century. While today the street is pedestrian-dominated, it was once a dangerous high-speed automobile highway that fell into disrepair in the 1970s.

It wasn’t until the founding of the Republic of Turkey that this famous street received its third and present name.  Originally the street was simply called Grand Avenue (Cadde-i Kebir). With the arrival and settlement of non-Muslims and European foreigners in the 17th century, Istiklal Caddesi was referred to as ‘Grand Rue de Pera’.

Located in the historic Beyoğlu (Pera) district, it is an elegant pedestrian street, 1.4 kilometres (0.87 mi) long and Istanbul’s most elegant street , in my opinion, and home to the city’s smartest shops, various embassies and churches as well as fashionable residences and tea-houses. A street people wouldn’t dream of taking a stroll on wearing an ordinary pair of jeans.

The Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey.
The Blue Mosque, (Sultanahmet Camii), Istanbul, Turkey.

Istanbul is famous for its Mosques and Ottoman architecture. As the capital of the Ottoman Empire since 1453 and the largest city in Turkey, Istanbul is home to over 3000 mosques.

Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Turkish: Sultan Ahmet Camii), also known as the Blue Mosque. It’s known as a functioning mosque which also attracts large numbers of tourist visitors. It was constructed between 1609 and 1616 during the rule of Ahmed I. Its Külliye contains Ahmed’s tomb, a madrasah and a hospice. Hand-painted blue tiles adorn the mosque’s interior walls, and at night the mosque is bathed in blue as lights frame the mosque’s five main domes, six minarets and eight secondary domes.

 It sits next to the Hagia Sophia, the principal mosque of Istanbul until the Blue Mosque’s construction and another popular tourist site.

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In the pedestrian pavement of Ayia Sofia, Istanbul, May 2018
Hayia Sofia, Istanbul, front photo

Visitors are still welcome to Hagia Sophia, which remains the country’s most popular tourist attraction. Hagia Sophia, It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, the nation’s biggest tourist draw, and the contested religious center of both Christian and Muslim empires.

The architectural marvel—celebrated for its Byzantine architecture, elaborate mosaics, and religious importance to Christians and Muslims.

The Hagia Sophia that stands today was built in the sixth century as the cathedral for the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire (also called the Byzantine Empire), and it became a mosque in 1453 with the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. It remained a Muslim house of worship until 1934, when the Turkish government turned it into a museum.

Taksim Square, May 2018

The word Taksim means “division” or “distribution”. Taksim Square was originally the point where the main water lines from the north of Istanbul were collected and branched off to other parts of the city (hence the name.) This use for the area was established by Sultan Mahmud I. The square takes its name from the Ottoman era stone reservoir which is located in this area.

Taksim is a main transportation hub and a popular destination for both tourists and residents of Istanbul. The Republic Monument (Turkish: Cumhuriyet Anıtı) , a notable monument located at Taksim was built to commemorate the formation of the Turkish Republic in 1923.

Istanbul, Taksim Square, credit New York Times
Istanbul, May 2018
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View from Hayia Sofia window, May 2018
Istanbul ferry, May 2018

It’s a well-known fact that the city of Istanbul is unique for spanning two continents. For very cheap, you’ll take a 10 minute ferry ride from Karakoy (Europe) to Kadikoy (Asia). If the weather is good then head out onto one of the outside decks for great views of Sultanahmet including Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace. Also keep your eyes on the water as you may see a few playful dolphins pop their heads up from time to time. Before you know it you will have docked at Kadikoy – welcome to Asia!

Thank you! Teşekkür ederim!


Inequalities might lead to an end of the Eurozone

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 showed that the time for much closer, stronger European bonds had grown near. Hopes for a peaceful and prosperous future were higher than ever, among both leaders and citizens. This led to the signing of the Maastricht treaty, which formally established the European Union in 1993 and created much of its economic structure and institutions – including setting in motion the process of adopting a common currency, the euro.

The eurozone structure

The basic idea behind the structure of the Euro was that self-regulating markets would ensure prosperity across the Eurozone as long as:

  • Inflation was kept in check by the European Central Bank
  • Member States had fiscal discipline, keeping their public deficits and public debt low

For these purposes, the European Central Bank was given a sole mandate to hit a 2% inflation target – regardless of patterns of unemployment and economic activity across the Eurozone. Unlike other Central Banks such as the US Federal Reserve, its mandate does not include ensuring price stability and guaranteeing full employment. Only the former is within the realm of its mandate.

Similarly, the Stability and Growth Pact required member states to ensure that their public deficit was kept below 3% of their national income (GDP) and their public debt did not exceed 60% of GDP.

The crisis

Since the 2008 crisis, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the European Commission, the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies, along with other statistics institutions within the European Trade Union Confederation, have all agreed on this fact: In recent decades, social inequalities have increased significantly across Europe. And not only in Greece or Spain: the situation is the same in Sweden and Germany. In the past twenty-five years Swedish society has experienced a considerable growth in inequality; according to the OECD, between 1985 and 2008 the country recorded the highest growth of income poverty among industrialized countries.

After its implementation, the euro fairly quickly became the second most important currency in the world, but as of 2015, it has failed to supplant the U.S. dollar at the top of the world’s monetary heap.  Continue reading Inequalities might lead to an end of the Eurozone

Watch “Testing Tolerance: Swedes are saying ‘enough’, to immigrants, no-go zones, sharia law & gang rapes” on YouTube

At the height of the immigration influx into Europe in 2014 and 2015, Sweden with a population of 6.7 million, accepted 244,178 asylum seekers – by far, the highest rate per capita in the EU. Since then the rate of violent crime has soared, particularly sexual assault cases.

The Swedish police have outlined over 50 areas with high immigrant populations that are “marred by crime, social unrest and insecurity.” Of these, 23 have been classified as “especially vulnerable,” or what migration critics call “no-go zones,” where even the police have trouble operating.

Besides the high incidence of gang violence and drug trafficking, residents complain these areas are being virtually colonised by immigrants whose cultures clash with Swedish values. Many Swedes and older immigrants alike have begun to say that Sweden doesn’t feel like Sweden anymore.

RELATED: Salam Alaikum Sweden: War refugees testing famous Swedish hospitality to the limit.

Critics of the government’s liberal immigration policies complain the police are afraid to intervene for fear of being accused of racial profiling, while the country’s politically correct press generally brands anyone raising concerns about immigrants as racist.

But now, some people fed up with what they see as the authorities’ inaction have taken matters into their own hands. They have begun to organise groups calling themselves names like ‘The Soldiers of Odin’ to patrol the country’s most blighted neighbourhoods. They are sometimes called vigilantes or racists, but the groups say they want the freedom to live in their own country as it was before the migrant crisis began.

Demain, quand la guerre pour du Nutella sera déclarée

Coup de folie autour du Nutella. Jeudi 25 janvier, des dizaines de personnes se sont ruées vers les magasins Intermarché. La raison ? Une offre très alléchante sur les pots de Nutella de 950 grammes, bradés à 1,41 euro seulement, soit près de 70% de réduction. De quoi provoquer des échauffourées entre clients dans plusieurs magasins. D’immenses files d’attente s’étaient formées devant les portes jeudi matin avant l’ouverture des magasins.

Selon Le Progrès, dans certains supermarchés de la Loire, le stock de Nutella s’est épuisé en quelques minutes. « Ça se battait. On a vendu ce qu’on vend en trois mois. Sur les tapis des caisses, il n’y avait que du Nutella », témoigne, au journal, une salariée. Des scènes hallucinantes qui ont choqué les clients : « Ils se sont acharnés comme des animaux. Une femme s’est fait tirer les cheveux, une dame âgée a pris un carton sur la tête, une autre avait la main en sang. C’était horrible », raconte une « rescapée » au Progrès. Dans le Nord, à Ostricourt, la gendarmerie a même dû intervenir, à la suite de coups échangés entre clients, rapporte Le Parisien.

Des scènes étonnantes, observées partout en France, que certains clients n’ont pas manqué de relayer sur les réseaux sociaux. Il faut dire que ce jeudi matin, une vaste campagne de communication accompagnait cette réduction. “Les 4 semaines les moins chères de France”, promet Intermarché, avec notamment un pot de la célèbre pâte à tartiner de 950 grammes à 1,41 euro ! Soit 70 % de remise. De quoi rendre fou des milliers de clients comme en attestent des vidéos sur Twitter…

  • Mais pourquoi autant de précipitation pour se procurer du Nutella?

Le mal est radical, non parce qu’il prend une forme passionnelle extrême, mais parce qu’il est universel. Et le problème est de penser que l’on peut y échapper, de regarder les autres s’écharper, se déchaîner, et de penser s’en excepter. Chacun a en soi un côté sombre et diabolique, un côté “Black Nutella Thursday”, l’essentiel est donc à la fois de voir celui des autres, mais aussi d’être lucide sur le sien.

Dans un monde globalisé, il ne faut bien sûr pas s’étonner si les formules qui ont du succès passent d’un continent à l’autre. Les frontières sont de plus en plus floues. Tant les consommateurs que les propriétaires de magasins ou de chaînes de magasins s’inspirent de recettes qui semblent efficaces sur d’autres marchés.En plus, en marketing, dans le cadre d’offres promotionnelles, cela revient à créer chez le consommateur un sentiment d’urgence. Il ou elle doit avoir le sentiment que c’est ‘maintenant ou jamais’ et qu’il s’agit d’une chance qui ne se représentera probablement pas.

En annonçant une offre importante sur une courte période de temps, les commerçants créent une impression de rareté et un sentiment d’urgence, comme lorsque le troupeau de bisons, nourriture essentielle de l’ancêtre, filait à vive allure dans la plaine. Plus l’opportunité est limitée, plus intense est le besoin de la saisir.

Il y a une infinité de stratégies qui sont appliquées pour déclencher ce sentiment d’urgence chez une personne qui visite un magasin (ou un webshop). La stratégie utilisée doit tenir compte du public cible spécifique, de la catégorie de produit ou de service, etc. Les promotions, par exemple sous forme de bons de réduction remarquables, constituent une méthode bien connue, mais il existe aussi des stratégies beaucoup moins visibles. Le décor modeste de Colruyt est ainsi censé donner le sentiment au client qu’il se trouve dans un environnement bon marché, ce qui le fait augmenter le nombre de ses achats.

A discount on Nutella has led to violent scenes in a chain of French supermarkets, as shoppers jostled to grab a bargain on the sweet spread.

Intermarché supermarkets offered a 70% discount on Nutella, bringing the price down from €4.50 (£3.90) to €1.40.

Although the country’s passion for Nutella is no secret, a 70 percent discount on the famous chocolate hazelnut spread at Intermarche supermarkets has really shown what the French are willing to do to get their hands on the spread.
In scenes reminiscent of Black Friday bonanzas in the US, images and videos posted on social media showed customers jostling, scuffling and battling each other to get their hands on pots of Nutella in supermarkets around the country.
“They are like animals. A woman had her hair pulled, an elderly lady took a box on her head, another had a bloody hand. It was horrible,” one customer at the Rive-de-Gier supermarket in central France told Le Progres newspaper.
In Ostricourt in northern France, the police were called in when supermarket customers resorted to fisticuffs, and similar scenes were also reportedly seen in Roubaix in the Nord department, as well as Wingles and Marles-les-Mines in Pas-de-Calais.
The mad pursuit to get a €4.50 pot for the discount price of €1.40 also saw employees caught up in the fray.

All of their stock was snapped up within 15 minutes and one customer was given a black eye, the report adds.