Two quick visits to Istanbul as a stopover on a recent trip, are clearly not enough to see and taste all the amazing things this city has to offer. Whilst I have promised myself and my dear friend Cansu to come back, this visit could however not go unnoticed on the Gourmand Traveller. I hereby present to you a fraction of my 48 hours in Istanbul, what to do, where to stay and what to see.
If one was to describe Istanbul in a single word, this would be alive. It is a city full of lights and people, in constant movement and animation… a city which seems to never go quiet.
On my first stop over I stayed at Ansen suites. A small, cosy and elegant boutique hotel tucked away on the Beyoglu neighbourhood, only a 20 minute walk from the famous Taksim Square. This part of the city is known as the “European quarter”, it is modern and trendy, full of bars, shops, restaurants, and all that is necessary to enjoy the city and avoid the classic tourism frenzy. Great by day and by night: packed with rooftop terraces overlooking the Golden Horn, Sultanahmet and it’s towering mosques.
Alcohol is allowed in Istanbul as long as it is not within 400 meters of a mosque. You wont find any problems in this part of the city, but be aware in others, it might be hard to get a beer.
The rooms in Ansen suites are spacious, well fitted and clean.The staff is very helpful and everything just seemed to work smoothly. It has good prices and it is located at a 20 minute taxi drive from Sultanahmed neighbourhood where you can find Hagia Sophia or the Grand Bazaar amongst other sites.
A cup of tea at …
Next to Ansen, stands The Pera Palace.
The Pera Palace is much more than a deluxe hotel, it is considered an institution both by Turks and foreigners. Built in 1892 to host travelers of the Orient Express, its grand architecture is a mixture of Neoclassical, Art nouveau and a bit of Oriental style. The hotel has been recently renovated, and is welcoming visitors again. Room 101, which used to host Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (founder of modern Turkey) has been converted into a museum.
The hotel is also known in the city for its “Patisserie”, which is served in the cafeteria on the ground floor, and makes the Pera Palace the perfect stop for an afternoon treat .They also have a terrace and serve great cocktails by night.
I had a lavish chocolate and berries cake…
One of the most exciting things about Istanbul is having dinner by the Bosphorus, possibly with a view of Asia on the other side. There are many places, the one I am reviewing today is one of those with an outstanding view and great turkish food, a bit far away from the center. You can find it at the following link: Kasibeyaz Bosphorus
Turkish meals traditionally take long and are very social. Different dishes are served with bread and sauces, and one is supposed to eat slowly, making conversation and fully appreciating the different flavors and textures this cuisine has to offer.
Turkish cuisine is traditionally distinguished by the use of spices, the abundance of meat, yoghurt and vegetables like eggplant among others. It constitutes a fusion of both western and middle easter cuisine, however imposing its own and distinguished character.
The view of Asia from the shores of the Bosphorus
A traditional Turkish Lavash Bread and some Cacik
Gavurdagi Salad, made of Tomatoes, onion parsley and walnuts!
Lahmacun (also known as “turkish pizza” to foreigners, a name not specially appreciated by locals)
A mix of Koftas and other types of meat with a spicy Bulgur and veggies