Rule number 1 in Turkey- drink apple tea everywhere you go!
While touring Turkey, it was clear to me that each district is governed by different cultural influences. The Sultan Ahmet area is typically more traditional in the sense that it feels ethnically Turkish. The spice bazaar was definitely my favourite expedition. We bought most of our Turkish delight from here from a stall called Hazer Baba. The variety or Turkish delight is amazing but my favourite would have be the rose!
we also found a very interesting coffee kiosk near the exit of the spice market. The store has 1 window from which you can buy freshly ground coffee in different quantities. there was an exceptionally long queue outside the store and I had to find out what all the fuss was about. I later found out that this is an extremely popular Turkish coffee mill called Kurukahveci. our tour guide explained to us the traditional way of making Turkish coffee , and so you can look forward to a post about that soon!
Taksim however was much busier and more modern. Taksim is the most popular retail stop for most tourists after the grand bazaar. Istiklal Street is buzzing with locals and tourists, the food is more take-away and coffee shop style, compared to Sultan Ahmet which is more traditional and sit-down style.
We visited the popular Turkish sandwich franchise, simit sarayi. They have a kiosk located in the clock tower in Makkah and I absolutely love their zataar and zaytoon simits. As well as their cheese and salad rolls. I didn’t see many of these in Sultan Ahmet but in Taksim there are quite a few.
After spending the morning in Taksim, we decided to take a short 12 minute drive (depending on traffic) to Nisantasi. I was taken away by the vast difference in terms of architecture and culture between the earlier two districts and Nisantasi. It’s extremely upmarket and as one of my friends described it “very European”. In this area you will find most of the high end retail brands and I do suggest taking a coffee break at one of the amazing coffee shops in the area.
The most exciting part of the trip however was visiting the sea-side district of Ortakoy. We anticipated this part of the trip so much due to all the hype built up around one very interesting baked potato. This lavish baked potato is called Kumpir, and is a popular dish in this area. It is nothing more than a baked potato topped with everything… and anything you can imagine! They serve them from street-side stalls and in the restaurants. I learnt one very important lesson that day, less is most definitely more. No matter how tempting it may seem to stuff your spud with everything they offer, keep it simple , try and opt for fewer toppings , trust me you’ll enjoy it much more. another popular delicacy in Ortakoy , are the waffles. Which just like the spuds , can be topped with almost anything you want.
If you happen to come across a coffee shop called Mado, I suggest you pop in and order your favourite Turkish desserts. Word has it, that they serve the best Turkish sweets.
After this post I feel like I’ve relived this amazing trip. I hope this helps you along your travels in the future and if you have any enquiries do feel free to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’re on Instagram check out my page and search #RSRinIstanbul for updates on my trip.
For those of you that are looking for guided tours I have 2 recommendations. If the odds are in your favour you will come across an old man named Ibrahim standing outside the AyaSofya museum. He was by far the most entertaining and informative tour guides I have met. His rates aren’t bad as well.
If you prefer a more formal route, we used a company called walk turkey tours, they were recommended by the hotel concierge.
To all my Muslim readers, Ramadhaan Kareem.