The city is indescribably beautiful (cont.)
But it’s not all monuments and museums, as the city also has a lot of public spaces to enjoy. There’s the historic hippodrome that once hosted horse races, and the lovely parks dotted around, many of which even have jungle gyms for kids. There are benches outside all the mosques, and wide walkways along the city’s bridges, all of which make the city feel very welcoming.
The watercourse that makes a lot of this possible is the mighty Bosphorus, by far the cleanest, bluest river we’ve ever seen that runs through a city. You cannot visit Istanbul without cruising down its heart, whether on a dinner cruise or on the public ferries. The dinner cruises are geared towards tourists, so we chose to use the ferries instead. This gave us the opportunity to talk to locals, spot landmarks in the distance, and watch the seagulls soar by. The ferries were also remarkably clean and comfortable, considering that they were cheap and part of the public transport system. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit the Prince’s Islands, but just riding the ferry between Istanbul’s various neighbourhoods gave us time to appreciate the magnificent river.
The cuisine is delicious
It seems like Turkey’s most popular culinary export are kebabs, and while they are delicious, there is so much more to Turkish cuisine. Their breakfasts are legendary, with a focus on fresh ingredients and enough options to suit any taste. These are often served up as grand spreads on rooftop terraces so that everyday starts with a magnificent view.
There is a lot of walking to be done, and Istanbul’s steep hills mean that you’ll need snacks more often than you think. That’s where street food comes in. There are red and white striped food carts dotted throughout the city selling freshly baked simit bread, smothered in Nutella or cream cheese. Fisherman have been working off the Galata Bridge for centuries, and the balik ekmek (fish sandwiches) sold off regal boats at Eminonu are famous the world over. There’s delicious kumpir, which are baked potatoes smothered in a myriad of toppings and gozleme, a delicious flatbread, freshly rolled and filled with mashed potato, cheese, meat, or something sweet.
Turkey’s take on pizza is the lovely pide, a boat-shaped bread, oozing cheesey goodness and manti is their version of ravioli, which consist of pasta shells stuffed with mince and served in a yoghurt-based sauce.When it comes to meat, there’s no shortage of options, from crispy chicken wings to flavourful clay pots, doner kebabs to grilled quails. Before our trip, we were warned that their food is bland, and went armed with a bottle of Sriracha sauce to spice things up. But we returned home with it unopened, since every dish we tried was spiced to perfection.
Written by Bibi Ayesha Bismilla, from kaleidescaping.com, a civil engineer by trade, but a traveler by heart.