cait +tiff


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T / postcards from istanbul

14---CatstantinoppleI knew I was stepping into a delicious place, thanks to Alissa.  But I didn’t think my expectations could be blown through the roof.  From the way citizens handled the attempted coup to the owner of the (delicious!) Gazientep kebab stall who insisted he repack my mess of bazaar purchases into a slightly less nutso annoying chaos. I was smitten.  I can’t wait to explore the rest of the country, but in the meantime, at least I can look back at these little goodies I took.


 

 

01---Raise-all-the-blindsWe stayed in the perfect Airbnb.  It was just steps from all the delicious and beautiful things. But not just that, our hosts messaged us to make sure we were alright once the coup started. Except we had the fortitude of being disconnected and clueless and replied, “we’re great! love this city!”  Anyways, I loved this little rooftop apartment with the best view off the rooftop terrace, waking up to this view from our bed every morning.  I never got sick of the calls to prayer, and even with the five flights of stairs to take us up, I would absolutely stay here again.


02---Drink-LimonataFrom this trip onwards, I am absolutely making Turkish lemonade, limonata, a constantly available beverage in my house.  It’s basically minty lemonade, but the moment we saw that Turkish Airlines offered a homemade version on their drinks list, I was addicted.  It’s all I want after hiking up a 45 degree incline.


03---Kool-Kids-in-Karakoy04---Blend-into-the-BackgroundKarakoy is where all the cool kids are.  It was also just steps from our Airbnb, and on the way to the ferry that would take us to the Asian side of Istanbul. There is no excuse for not heading here.  Just remember to make a reservation at Karakoy Lokantasi.


06---Eat-BreakfastIf you don’t have a Turkish breakfast,  then you haven’t really visited Istanbul. Every single person I chatted with while planning this trip implored me to visit Van Kavalhti Evi (though, the above picture was taken at Cafe Privato), with their endless supply of delicious tea, and that massive spread! Bring friends and spend at least three hours here.


07---Look-Up Tiffany TsangYou’ll need to get an olive oil massage at the hammam because your neck will always be craned upwards while you’re at the Hagia Sophia, The Blue Mosque, and all the other massive pretty things that make Istanbul resemble Disney World.


08---To-Market,-To-MarketTarlabasi Sunday Market is the perfect place to get a sense of Istanbul at it’s most normcore. Located in a middle class neighbourhood just a hop and a skip from Taksim Square, the place comes alive with olive vendors, cheese men, and all the peppers and spices in the world.  All I wanted to do was buy all the produce, and every single variety of tomato.09---But-First,-Olives Tiffany Tsang Tiffany Tsang Tiffany Tsang


11.5---Go-EastThe Asian side of Istanbul is just a 15 minute ferry ride from Karakoy harbour and across the Bosphorus. Our pal Abigail was absolutely right – you can just get lost over there, wandering every delicious street, from the seafood restos and fish market to all the bars on Kadife Sokak.  We stumbled upon the most delicious honey, fresh scraped from the comb atop the thickest yogurt.  Then came all the local brew and the fresh fish. We didn’t have any more room for the kunefe, which only means we’ll have to go back. 12---Yogurt-and-Honey 13---Drink-Local-Brew


05---get-a-rooftopAnd rooftops.  Those are always important.


All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.  Cait+Tiff are not liable for sudden urges to go to Turkey.


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guest post / Alissa Ate Turkey (…errr Istanbul)

When the layover stars aligned and I decided that I’d be heading to Istanbul (en route to a far flung location) in a couple of weeks, I knew I had to crowdsource all the tasty things.  And who best to do get the goods from? Our very own travel correspondent, of course!  You’ve gone through all of her tips before, so you know this intel is quality.  Thank you Alissa!!!  – Tiff


Alissa-Istanbul-HeaderIstanbul is one of my favorite cities that I’ve ever visited. It’s this incredible mix of traditional and modern, where elements of Europe and the Middle East blend to produce an atmosphere that is unlike any other. The markets are amazing, the architecture is phenomenal, and the food is beyond words. I stayed in Fener-Balat, a cozy little neighborhood of coffee shops and antique stores, where my friends live. Staying here provided a glimpse into the non-tourist side of Istanbul, and some of my favorite moments of the trip involved wandering this area, visiting farmers’ markets and catching up with friends over many cups of tea – spend 30 minutes in this city and you’ll soon realize tea and coffee are the vices of choice. Within moments of arrival, you’ll also quickly notice the plethora of street cats. Istanbul is known for their affection and respect for kitties, with dishes of kibble and water commonly left outside doorsteps. As a result, these are some of the cleanest, plumpest, and friendliest street cats you’ll ever encounter – expect them to curl up in your lap at cafes.

Here are some of the favorite things we did:

Alissa-EatsEAT:

  • Oldest Turkish delight shop: This place is legitimately the best Turkish delight I’ve ever had. Granted, most of what I’d had before was free samples on layovers in the IST airport BUT I still argue that this is the best. With the shop first opening its doors in 1777, I am pretty sure it’s the oldest as well.
  • Baklava: My friends were quick to warn me that they had to to find delicious baklava in Istanbul… in fact, they said it was gross. Whaaaaaaat? I took this on as a challenge and proceed sample various baklava establishments daily, at the end of the trip concluded: Ya it’s kinda….. wet. We did some Googling and learned that Turkish baklava is different than Lebanese, the former uses sugar water (hence the soggy) while the later uses honey. Try lots and see what you think, despite the wetness, I still found it yummy and loved just having a piece with a Turkish coffee and watching the world go by. This place is across from the Turkish Delight place and I would highly recommend. It’s gorgeous and you feel like you are back in time and fancy.
  • Turkish breakfast: EVERYONE HAS TO DO THIS! Go here and order the biggest breakfast thing, and also order the egg dish with sausage and also order the fried doughnut things and the cheesy bread. Drink lots of tea with it. The neighborhood around here is also really special.
Dinner at Karakoy Lokantasi (left) and a kepbab at Duramzade (right). Noms.

Dinner at Karakoy Lokantasi (left) and a kepbab at Duramzade (right). Noms.

  • Kepbab at Durumzade. Bourdain ate here, so you know it’s the best.
  • Kunefe: There was this little cafe near the grand bazaar where we had phenomenal meat… and my friend was like, eat this you will die happy. It was kunefe and it was unreal. It’s fried cheese covered in honey and crushed pistachio. Keep an eye out for this treat!
  • Drink raki. It’s so strong, you’ll get so drunk and then like an hour later you’ll feel great. We drank lots of raki after the bathhouse and I’d recommend this as well.
  • Karakoy Lokantasi – this is a fancier resto, but still actually not expensive. It’s beautiful on the inside (one word: turquoise) and the food was phenomenal.
  • Lahmacun: this is like a Turkish pizza (but not at all) and it SO FREAKING DELICIOUS. Mincemeat on flatbread and then you put lots of greens and herbs on top, roll it up and munch. You’ll see them all over, be sure to eat one.

Alissa-DidDO:

  • Blue Mosque (above) and Hagia Sophia, obvs. It’s unbelievably magical.
  • Turkish bath! We did ours in the neighborhood where we stayed at a very locale place, but can imagine the higher-end, historical bathhouses are also amazing. It’s a pretty incredible experience, who doesn’t want to have their skin scrubbed back to baby softness
Hagia-Sofia

Inside the Hagia Sofia.

Laundry Sky Photo

Wander everywhere.

  • Do Asian side and European side, they are so different. The Asian side is really hip and a great place to bar hop at night and hear live music.
  • Hipster time in Karakoy, lots of little boutiques and cafes!
  • Wander Grand Bazaar, here you will find all the Turkish bath towels you’d ever want!
  • There are also these cisterns near the Hagia Sophia that are pretty spectacular.

All photos by Alissa Pries. Please request permission for use. We are not liable for costs incurred for last minute flights of fancy to Istanbul.