FIAT taksi waits for passengers near mosque

Yellow Taksi in Istanbul

There are very few private yellow cars in Turkey. A recent trip to Istanbul verified this. Plenty of yellow trucks, we even spotted a yellow helicopter, but no cars…That’s because Istanbul’s taxis, or “taksi” are yellow, so who in their right mind would want to be flagged down and directed to the Blue Mosque when dropping off the kids at school? Unable to spare the time to drive to Turkey in the YW yellow Golf (!), we were obliged to jump aboard the odd taksi for our long weekend in the capital. Obliged, sounds forceful, but we had been warned of the super-hero standard of the cabbie’s driving there. Super-heroes, can skip traffic lights, dodge potholes, slip through traffic at the speed of light without ever endangering life or limb. And these super-schumachers don’t even need to stop at a phone booth to stick their underpants on the outside. Good thing that YouTube is banned in Turkey so they can’t watch the video of the ride, although word has it a few seconds organizing a proxy server circumnavigates this embarrassing censorship.

Skoda Roomster - the new kid on the block, looks like a spaceship compared to older FIATs

Taksis don’t come in many shapes and forms, in fact a totally unscientific survey of cabby preferences in order of popularity, seems to award the first prize to the Hyundai Accent, followed by the Turkish FIAT/TOFAS, with a smattering other brands, led by Renault with their booted Clio and the odd Megane. After that, it’s the exception rather than the rule. We were consequently stunned to see a smart new Skoda Roomster: a spaceship landing amongst chariots if you get our drift. There won’t be much drifting though, because A, they are all front wheel drive, B Istanbul traffic doesn’t allow. Our driver, we’ll call him Aydin, as they all say “yes” and then make a din, picks us up, and as soon as we say “Eminonu ferry dock” he charges headlong into narrow one-car-wide-but-two-way streets.

Thumbs up to Yellowwheels from driver

He’s not taking any prisoners, more likely running them over. Luckily the pedestrians move aside and once the cabby coming the other way has mounted the curb and folded his mirrors, forward motion resumes. At this point it’s deemed essential to call Mustafa on the mobile while deftly dodging tourist busses that loom larger than the streets they are cruising. Battling buses is one thing, surviving the inevitable high speed pile up on the four laner will be another; we reach for the seatbelts. Clearly turks are protected by Allah, because the seatbelts are there, but the buckles have dematerialized below the rear seat cushions. Safely arrived, and a few Lira chucked Aydin’s way, we saunter to a ferry; a reassuringly slow way to cross the Bosphurous, watching minarets dissolving in the mist and dolphins hurdling across the waves before our banal bus back to the airport.

Now sit back click on the photos and enjoy a flock of yellow taksis

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