THE BLOG
05/24/2013 02:29 pm ET Updated Jul 24, 2013

Istanbul Has Its Act Together

While I was in Cairo, I kept thinking the Egyptians should check out Istanbul. Both are megacities with over 10 million people. Both come from a poor and chaotic recent history. While Cairo struggles, Istanbul is zooming ahead. Just driving into town from the airport, I noticed landscaping along the highway (with fences to keep people out of the new gardens) and a clear delineation between people and traffic zones. While the architecture was still ramshackle/charming, there was almost no litter. It felt like northern Europe from a tidy point of view.

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Istiklal Caddesi is the main drag through Istanbul. Strolling it from one thriving end to the other is a joyful ritual for me every time I'm in town.

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The historic and touristic center of Istanbul between the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia church (shown here) is now virtually traffic-free, with blossoming trees, refreshing fountains, and a mix of strolling visitors from all over Europe and the Middle East as well as locals. I had to just sit on a bench and marvel at the almost Parisian elegance of the scene.

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