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The Empire of Cats

The time I discovered…

Iulia Dromereschi


Exactly one year ago, in mid-August, a low cost flight carried me to the place I had always dreamed of, but never knew.

One year ago, I spent four days in The Empire of Cats. Yes, Cats. The furry fellows who have quietly taken over the Internet. If you ever wonder where do they go when they’re tired, and want an energy boost, or what’s the mysterious place they disappear to when you can’t find them around the house… well. They’re there. In Istanbul.

We went to the ”cultural capital” of Turkey on a whim (of course Istanbul is not Turkey’s capital! – well, not anymore; the capital is called Ankara, and it’s on my always updating traveling list). The Sziget Festival in Budapest ended, so I thought, why not profit of the low cost flight to Istanbul? So we left our camping stuff with friends and off we went.

Being my first Turkish experience, it was mostly amazing. Or, better said, quite perfect. If my boyfriend didn’t crack his phone during the trip, it would have been at 100%. But let me assure you, Istanbul doesn’t have any special gravity; it was just hot.

In the Empire of Cats there are cats. Cats are there; everywhere. You turn your head, and there they are: perched on a Vespa, asleep on a cab, taking care of their fur on a museum bench – everywhere. People respect them, and take care of them. There are bowls with cat food and cut PETs in front of almost every building. We once saw a man who sold soap gently removing a cat from his merchandise, serving the customer, and replacing the cat. It didn’t stir.

So, for a cat lover, it is truly heaven. But it’s also quite a great place for people who love food. We quickly discovered this hidden place (albeit recommended by TripAdvisor) where they served delicious traditional dishes, the snack and tea were on the house, and every table was basically covered in foreign bank notes, left as a souvenir from satisfied people!

Now don’t imagine I’m praising the city only for its fauna and its food. Although that might be enough! No. Istanbul is also excellent for cultural discoveries, close encounters with street markets, great shopping venues, and quite an animated street life – be it night or day, you can always wander among the furry empresses, grab a bite of baklava, and enjoy the music, juggling, or other performances.

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