Istanbul: Excursions to Anatolia and the Bosphorus

I began writing about our trip to Istanbul here, and mentioned that Istanbul spans two continents. The oldest areas of Istanbul are located in Europe,  and the newest areas are in Asia.

In a city of 14 million people, each district is still the size of a large city.  We spent most of our time in the tourist areas, but after a few days we ventured out to some new areas. We strayed from our usual travel guide , and brought along this book instead.  It was perfect for our short stay in Istanbul, and gave us plenty of ideas and directions to visit a few places outside of the touristic areas of Sultanahmet and Beyoğlu.


Ferry to Kadıköy

During planning, I read this article about one of Istanbul’s favorite lokantas, craft restaurants.   It is not located in the center of the city, but in the neighborhood of Kadıköy — a 20 minute ferry ride.

In Istanbul the Ferry is as common as a bus or subway, and one of the easiest ways to travel between continents. Though we only spent one afternoon on the Anatolia side, it showed us a more residential vibe within the city.

We wandered balık pazarı (the historic fish market) and stopped at Fazil Bey, a coffee roaster in the neighborhood.  Four days in Istanbul and we hadn’t tried true Turkish kahvesi (coffee).  It was thick and heavy and nothing like the coffees we had tasted.  Turkish coffee is ground to a consistency that is finer than espresso and served in a small cup with the grounds, which settle into the bottom. The liquid is sipped.  After a sip of Derek’s coffee, I ordered çay (turkish tea),  and we tried a bite of turkish delight and people watched.

We found Çiya Sofrası, the impetus for the trip.  Çiya is a vegetarian restaurant specializing in regional dishes from the southeastern part of Turkey. Across the pedestrian alley is Çiya Kebap it’s grill-house. The chef and owner collects recipes from small villages with the hope of reawakening some of the ‘lost’ recipes that use seasonal foraged ingredients and are no longer made. I ordered meze style, and tried small portions of Kısır — which is similar to Tabbouleh, dolmas, and salads of dried currents, parsley, beet greens and sumac, and many other flavors that I had never tried!

A friend of mine who lives in Kadıköy suggested that before we depart we walk along the harbour, we found a place on the rocks and watched the sun retreat before taking a return ferry.



Above: Back in Eminönü at dusk, watching the fishermen on Galata Bridge.  At the end of the bridge is Yeni Cami, meaning New Mosque.


 Bosphorus Fishing Villages 

On our last afternoon in Istanbul, before meeting up with a friend for meze and Rakı, we took a city bus to see the villages along the Bosphorus.   We stopped in Bebek and spent the afternoon walking around and enjoying the idle pace of this neighborhood in comparison to everything else we had seen in Istanbul.

After 400 years,  the Ottoman sultans grew tired of Topkapı Sarayı on the peninsula and built modern palaces along the Bosphorus.  It has become one of the most affluent areas of the city, actually it felt a bit like suburbia.   Panhandling, homelessness and stray animals were common throughout Istanbul, but certainly not here.  It felt completely different than anywhere we had been in the city.

Our last day in Istanbul was our wedding anniversary and also the Day of Ataturk: A date that commemorates Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern, secular Turkey and the first president of the republic. Turkish flags were hung throughout the city all weekend!




The Memory Kitchen: A Chef Recovers the Foods that Turkey Forgot  The New Yorker

Get Cultured: Istanbul – A Guide to this Eclectic City and its Hip Neighborhoods The Culture-ist

Making the Perfect Cup of Turkish Coffee

Take a Food Tour of Istanbul Delicious Istanbul

Below is the transit map of Istanbul  (click to enlarge)




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