Sunday, February 9, 2014


(I always feel I need to apologise for phone photos, two weeks with only hand luggage meant no DSLR on this trip)

I was so happy that I had the chance of visiting Istanbul in my last month overseas. We were there for a week over Christmas, not that you had any hint that it was Christmas Day, apart from the few shops around the Spice Market selling flashing Christmas hats and plastic trees. I organised couchsurfing for myself and the two friends I was travelling with, and it was one of the best couchsurfing experiences I've had to date. A friendly, super interesting couple who lived in Kadikoy on the Asian side of the city. They were so hospitable and such interesting thinkers, and I loved having a drink with them in the evenings and discussing the situation in Turkey and their views on it. It's such an interesting country, and definitely one of my favourite cities that I visited last year. I feel like I say that with every city, but I really mean it with Istanbul! Living on the Asian side was great; hardly any tourists (that time of year anyway), authentic markets with the most beautiful Turkish food. The food! I must've had at least 2 baklavas a day (the sweetness set off by strong Turkish coffee), several turkish delights and spoonfuls of super sweet, addictive halva. Istanbul is so good at street food! Mussels on street corners, stuffed with rice and as many as you want served in your hand with a squeeze of lemon, fish caught in the Bosphorus and put straight on the grill, served with spices and salad in fresh bread, sesame covered simits, freshly squeezed pomegranate juice. And if you can, grab a table (crates with wood on top) and have a pile of charcoal barbecued chicken with bulgur and salad, or some pilaf, or a mixed kebab plate with pide and garlicky yoghurt sauce. Recommened by our couchsurfing hosts, we went to Namli Gurme at Karakoy for brunch (walk around the Galata area afterwards, my favourite part of the city). There, you choose what you'd like from a huge delicatessen-like window and choose what barbecued meats or eggs you'd like prepared, and then they bring a huge platter to your table of what you selected, served with crusty bread. Stuffed vine leaves, marinated olives, filled peppers, amazing goats cheese, tapenade and spreads, spicy chicked skewers and pastrami omelettes.
It was nice to live on the Asian side and have a Turkish tea (always served in a real glass) in the mornings on the ferry, and a hot salep (a delicious milky, sweet & cinamonny drink) in the late afternoons, watching the sun set on the way back.
I have photos from an island we visited saved for another post, otherwise, you'll find most of the noteworthy things we did in a travel guide. I can recommend simply packing good walking shoes and exploring the city's streets by foot. I always felt safe (apart from getting caught up in a demonstration near Taksim - avoid those. Or maybe don't, it's really great to see the people make a stand for what they believe in, but better with a mask for the tear/ coughing gas).

Visit Turkey if you have the chance!

1 comment:

  1. Girl, you have put that phone to good work. These are glorious. Light bounces around Europe so differently. xx