Things I remember the most about Istanbul

I was walking down the street the other day and a flash of all things Istanbul came to mind. Maybe it’s the fresh juices around, maybe it’s the crowd, maybe it’s the festivity singing but for whatever reason, Istanbul came to mind.

The thing about traveling on foot is you get to experience the cities hand (and feet) on. It’s no surprise that I idolized Anthony Bourdain so much or the idea that he moves around close to the city’s pulse – because the truth of the matter is, there is no other way to experience a new city but by walking right into the streets’ pulse!

I loved Istanbul. I love the cultured, eccentricity and originality of a city like Istanbul. I had little knowledge of Turkey, but through Istanbul I am educated by bit. And now, I miss it. There are a few things about the city that I think one MUST experience (especially if you’re an easily amused, lady like me).

1) Teas 

How can you not? Turkey is voted / prized as the number 1 nation that drinks most teas per capita. And it’s not just Wikipedia, everyone in Turkey has a Tea Tumbler. EVERYONE. Before the train? Drink some tea. Change money? Drink some tea. Want to plan an excursion? Have some tea! New scarves? Tea! New bags? TEA. Juices? TEA. TEA. TEA. Okay you get the picture. But despite the overwhelming tea culture in Turkey/ Istanbul that gives you all the more right to try the famous Turkish teas (AND, they’re good) for whatever reason, their teas are in fact easy on your throat and some say mind, that you just thought, heck you’ll have that 5th glass. The Turks are so proud of their Tea culture that to deny their teas would be preposterous. So the next time you’re in town, instead of wailing away from the teas, why don’t you embrace them :) 

2) Men

Mum and I got lost around the streets of Sultanahmet on our first day, because there were just TOO many people. I left mum at one corner as I walked around to find a decent guy to ask for directions, when he looked at me directly in the eyes, and instead of saying, “go that way, and that way, bla bla” he said “please let me send you ladies. It’s for your mum the very least”. They treat, my mum (and women) in general the best way possible. The best way anyone from any countries I’ve visited POSSIBLE! Just when I thought Australia was decent, the Turks (men specifically) trump others. They were polite, kind hearted and playful. The way they spoke to my mum and myself made them masterclass gentlemen (especially if they’re selling you things) that made me remembered their charm so much even after the trip. Like, I was hypnotized or something. By the final days of our trip we met an American lady that enlightened us about a 'Turkish Men Scam' where they would woo the ladies into a gathering and then leave the lady behind having to pay for all of their leftovers, some food, some a hotel’s stay. Instead of thinking oh dear that’s terrible, all I had in mind was – must be easy for them, they’re naturally charming! Ladies, this is your chance to play darts on your favourite types when you’re in Istanbul, Kind, Good Looking or plain ol Polite – you’ve got everything to amuse at! Even the ice cream man (is amusing!).

3) Guesthouse 

The lobby of our guesthouse is located on the 4th floor (highest) where we had to climb four floors up everytime we want to have some breakfast or ask the manager some questions. But besides that, this skinny vertical terrace had a charming unobstructed view of the sea and a little kitchen right around it. If you walked out on Spring, fresh flowers are everywhere, making it part of their natural decoration. The guesthouse I stayed in is lovely, quaint and simple. But it made me feel like home, partly thanks to the cleaner lady and the manager, but I realised that minus the personal touches, the guesthouses there are SO dreamy and lovely. It’s exactly what I dream for a guesthouse to be – not busy, relaxed and most importantly quirky in its own rightful ways. I loved their guesthouses that I started snapping everything I see. LOVED IT! 

4) Balik Ekmek 

You’d think I would remember the kebabs and all the meats dishes Istanbul is so famous for – but I came and decided that it was their fresh fish market that completely swooned me. Located just right around Sultanahmet’s busiest street Karakoy, right next to the world famous Galata Bridge, the aptly named Karakoy Fish Market houses a long stretch of fishermen who so obviously catch, sell their fishes and cook them right then and there infront of you. I chose everyone’s favourite Balik Ekmek which is a fish sandwich and I almost died. The combination of freshly fried fish enveloped in fresh vegetables and fresh sandwich is the best… thing… ever…. I loved the whole environment, of literally bustling fishermen, selling and price wars on fishes of the day, and charming Turkish folks rousing through tight seating areas. I wanted to capture the whole thing in my head, keep that scene in my heart and safeguard these memories for replays, and now at the time of replaying it, I wish I’d have just that small bit of similarity of taste and feeling again. Alas, that moment slipped in an instant, and like everything else moments go. So please! If you ever do go to Karakoy Fish Market (please do!), have Balik Ekmek (fish sandwich) and enjoy everything about it! EVERYTHING!! 

Four VERY simple things that remind me of Istanbul! I hope you find your own favourite moments / things about Istanbul, and let me know what they are !!

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.


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