Istanbul: two days are not enough to cover the whole of this vast and magnificent city or, even briefly, a part of its history. But let us guide you through the city even if it just for the weekend. It will be a weekend you will never forget.
The Galata Bridge unites the two parts of the city. Here it will always be crowded with people, smells, colours, women holding bags and children and bewitched tourists taking pistures of the spectacular you. Everywhere around there are minarets and mosques. Fishermen and locals respond to the photographic “click” of tourists most times with contemplative silence. Meanwhile below, you can enjoy a balik ekmek (fish sandwich) and relax while watching a Galata Tower. This is the moment when you realize for good that this bridge connects the old and new parts of the city.
Anyway the way from Ataturk Airport to Taksim Square includes almost all kinds of transportation, which, it should be noted – is perfect. From the windows of the subway come first images : antennaes, monuments, blocks, slums not miserable but beautiful, and built with a series of steps and colours. This is the moment when the tunnel turns to the western shore of the Golden Horn, in the central districts Sultanahmet, Eminönü and Fatih. After the hotel, take the tram and take the tour downtown, this way you will enjoy a first stroll of the city that will magnetize you.
Between dairies, showcases and syrupy sweets let the city lead you to the famous Spice Market (Misir Carsi). Effortlessly the road will also get you out on the Covered Market (Kapali Carsi) with thousands of shops and small cafes under the arches inviting for Turkish coffee or tea. Across the market you can see the Blue Mosque. Watch the locals preparing to enter and pray. The time of prayer at the call of Imam – affecting almost everything on this side of town and is the best show.
48hour party people
The vertical streets of Istiklal are full of bars and stylish cafes, where you can comfort yourselves with a Yeni Raki with open-minded locals who kindly invite you to join them . Regardless of temperature, the tables on sidewalks are cluttered. Stand-up comedy and live concerts or shows lie normally “hidden” on the second floor, but if you find the Mojo and listen to tunes … do not hesitate .
At the end of the main street is the Tunel Beyoglu, “Lost One” , funk and traditional meeting point with beautiful little bistros/cafes and imaginative alcohol-free cocktails. Equally convenient is the Gallery of Flowers (Cicec Pasaji), with sweet pastry which have a touch of Parisian Art Nouveau and refers to past eras of the city. Walk a little further until you reach Cihangir Beyoglu which smells of Turkish cuisine that is like a party – you can not distinguish whether a restaurant, a home or a lounge grill- and let your nose guide you until you meet the Ara café. With black and white patterned walls, Ara offers sultac – a version of rice pudding- but since you came here, do not leave without trying a Sigara Boregi ( patty with cheese and potato) . Enjoy a last treat at Savoy pastry shop just a few steps away.
Photos from: Thanassis Papanikolaou, chrisanthi, buraksyalcin, Tom Daedalus, ali