We were fortunate to arrive in Istanbul just in time for the city's launch as the"European Capital of Culture" for the continent in 2010, which will continue throughout the year. On Sunday evening, the city hosted an outrageous opening celebration, with four simultaneous concerts at 20:10 (8:10 p.m.), to coincide with the year 2010.
One was in our nabe of Sultanahmet, which we pranced down to see during a horrifying Ottoman Empire marching band, serving the most conservative sect of the population (read: so uncool... and not pretty. Imagine your high school marching band, with shrill oboes included).The other, hipper celebrations took place in Bağcılar, Pendik and Taksim Squares (the latter featured Turkey's biggest male superstar, Tarkan), with an "official" opening indoors at Haliç Congress (including a performance by Sertab, whom we would see later that evening). Unfortunately, rain fell steadily across the city, making the outdoor concerts a royal pain in the ass. After checking out the action close by, Ayhan and I decided to watch the majority of the festival launch on the TV in the lobby of the Hotel Kybele.The celeb culminated with a stupendous fireworks show at each of the locations... which Ayhan and I dashed out to see from our locale. Pretty amazing stuff, and great timing, for sure.