Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Out & About in Istanbul


We spent five beautiful days in Istanbul and we definitely needed more!
As this was our third visit there we knew exactly what we wanted to do and that is to get more of the feel, rhythm and pulse of the city and a little less of museums and monuments, as we normally do on our travels.

What to see:

Topkapi Palace is an enormous museum dating back from the 15th century that served as the main residence and administrative headquarters of the Ottoman sultans. The palace complex consists of four main courtyards and many smaller buildings. Female members of the Sultan's family lived in the harem, and leading state officials, including the Grand vizier, held meetings in the Imperial Council building.
However, in the 17th century it losses its appeal and importance and the sultan ruling back then moves the court to the newly built Dolmabahche Palace, which is another point of interest,worth seeing.


Topkapi is grandiose, treasuring many artifacts and relics. I recommend you start with it as soon as it opens, because the swarms of visitors makes the tour tiresome and extremely noisy.

We skipped Hagia Sophia and Sultan Ahmed Mosque, because we visited them on our last tour, but do pay them a visit.

Kapali Carsi and the Grand Bazaar. You will feel as if magically transferred to one of Scheherezade's stories. Indescribable, mind-blowing, elating. 

Take a tour on the Bosphorus where you'd be able to see the magnificent houses and villas set as jewels on the shore.

On the other side of Boshorus, across the Galata Bridge, visit the Galata Tower that offers a magnificent and breath-taking view of the city. The tour also includes a 3d show that tops the visit. From Galata Tower you can take a walk straight to Taksim, which is about 2-3 km away but the pedestrian street is filled with shops on both sides that will certainly steal your attention. Do wonder on the side streets and allies for amazing little artisan shops and authentic cafes and restaurants. On one such turning we visited the French Street which is a story of its own.

What to eat:
This depends on taste, and taste cannot be discussed. But if you are open to foreign cuisine and eager to try foreign specialties, you will be up for some interesting palate tickles.
We have some similar meals with the Turkish, but tried many of their specialties like the Ottoman kebap, some Chiken shish, Durum rolls, lahmacun, döner and pide bread.
This is like tapas, or as we and they call it meze, which many of the restaurants offer it as a starter and they do not charge it. It is a vegetable mix (mainly tomatoes and peppers) with spices served with pide.

They serve the Ottoman kebap in these clay pots.
The Turkish have a long and immensely rich history of confectionery, so understandably, they are wizards in making sweets. Now, I am not a baklava person (I cannot stand all that insane amount of sugar) and they have many similar sweets, but my friends were overwhelmed with them, so whatever you choose, you won't be disappointed! But I did try a Künefe, which  is a crispy cheese-filled dessert made with kadayıf  and my sweet word!! It was unlike anything I have tasted.
Künefe is a crispy cheese-filled dessert made with kadayıf, which is a traditional shredded wheat dessert with pistachio filling. Künefe is served hot out of the oven so the cheese is soft and stringy.

Künefe is cooked and served in a very shallow, round metal pan that's specially designed for making this dessert. It's so delicious that Turkish people and tourists alike keep coming back for more.

What to drink:

Turkish coffee. It is also our traditional/national drink, but they make it extra sweet, so have that in mind when you order it. I have it with zero sugar. Also they serve it in (a little bit bigger than a ) thumb size cups with oriental designs that makes the morning ritual special.

Also their tea or Çay, which is beautiful but too strong if you ask me.
Never skip an opportunity to have a glass of freshly squeezed pomegranate or order an Ayran with your meal. Ayran is a cold yogurts mixed with salted water. Salep is another drink they prefer that is made from orchid tubers. It has many health benefits so this is a recommended drink too.


Divya N said...

Wow, third visit to Istanbul? I envy you. I hope you had a fabulous time there

Alhana said...

Thank you so much for this virtual tour! I'd love to have a taste of these spicy foods. Also, you can leave blakava to me, yum yum. ;-)

ezgi said...

Dear Maya, I am soo happy that you like Istanbul.
Have we delicious food ? Do you like it.
Did you find some yarns or fabrics from Turkey ?

Julie's Creative Lifestyle said...

Hello Maya, wow how wonderful to be able to travel to such beautiful places. I enjoyed looking at your photos and learning about Istanbul.
Thanks for your sweet comment on my granny square baby sweater I made. :)

Maya Kuzman said...

We really did Divya! Cannot wait to return there!

Maya Kuzman said...

You are welcome Alhana! You would enjoy their sweets shops immensely!

Maya Kuzman said...

Oh my gosh Ezgi! I bought so much beautiful yarn! I found the spaghetti yarn five times cheaper than here. Started hyperventilating when I saw the price! As for food, we love Turkish cusine and enjoyed trying national dishes!

Maya Kuzman said...

Yes, Julie! We are truly blessed to be able to travel and see far and distant places our heart desire!

passion fruit, paws and peonies said...

It's wonderful to see your photos of Istanbul. My husband would like us to visit there but I had no real idea what it was like. Thank you for the guide xx Maria from Passion fruit, paws and peonies

Maya Kuzman said...

Thank you Maria! This is just a scrape of what can be seen and done in the city. It is really magnificent and I am sure you'll have the time of your life if you decide to visit it!

Tammy@T's Daily Treasures said...

So much history and character in Istanbul. We took a Japanese business associate to have khanafeh in Amman, Jordan at one of the most famous places there where you stand outside and eat it in an alley. He absolutely loved it and now every time we meet with him, he must have khanafeh. :)

Maya Kuzman said...

I think it is the same thing Tammy, right?
If it is, the man is right :l
It is absolutely addictive!

handmade by amalia said...

I've always wanted to visit Turkey, Maya, I'm following your adventures with great interest. The architecture is gorgeous and the food looks divine, and quite similar to ours.

Kim said...

I love eating different cuisines when visiting different places. You certainly get around, Maya. How fabulous to once again visit Istanbul. Love those gorgeous tiles and as for that bazaar, it looks like an Aladdin's cave to me.