A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about istanbul

Turkish Delight (Lokum)

Istanbul


View Teaching and Travelling Abroad on 3Traveller's travel map.

Edit from March 2019: Altan Şekerleme is still going and still appears to be very highly rated!

Today, our last day in Istanbul and Turkey, there were three priorities; A) to revisit the Spice Market, B) to go to a specific shop for some Turkish delight and C) to catch the correct night bus back to Bulgaria.

A) came first, after a typically satisfying breakfast at Piya Hostel. We were keen to return to the Spice Market to get some more spices for ourselves and some presents for people. No fake saffron this time!

Between the Spice Market and Altan Şekerleme

Between the Spice Market and Altan Şekerleme

One thing we didn't get at the Spice Market was the Turkish delight. I had been recommended a different place to buy that from instead. It was only round the corner, in a back street - a shop called 'Altan Şekerleme'. The Turkish delight, ('Lokum' in Turkish and Bulgarian) is hand made on site here. As soon as we stepped inside and started looking at the piles of Turkish delight on offer, some pieces of it were handed to us as free samples by the lovely old owner and younger female assistant. Delicious! I could taste the natural ingredients; it was not at all artificial-tasting, like some Turkish delight can be. I bought two kilogram boxes of different flavours; one for my family and one for us two to share. For his family Dave bought a kilogram box of mixed sweets - some Turkish delight, some marzipan pieces coated in dessicated coconut and some hard candies like boiled sweets. There was a funny moment at the end when I tried to take the bag of boxes from the owner - he shooed me away and gave the bag to Dave to carry instead!

6c715a60-49bf-11e9-8035-01bf8845ef99.JPGIMG_6725.JPG6c732f20-49bf-11e9-bfd5-d15ef271eaf6.JPG

On the way back from there we got off the tram two stops later than usual so I could buy another two pairs of cheap trousers from the same stall outside the Grand Bazaar that I had been to before we went to Cappadocia. Once I had bought them and we had taken the tram back two stops, we walked back to the hostel on a rather circular route via Kennedy Caddesi, the road that runs along the seafront.

aab1c8f0-49bf-11e9-8035-01bf8845ef99.JPG

On our way along that we came across the ruins of the Byzantine Bucoleon Palace; only some high walls remain now, almost completely taken over by climbing vegetation.

IMG_0583.JPGIMG_0581.JPGaaf624f0-49bf-11e9-8035-01bf8845ef99.JPG

Back at the hostel we rested for an hour or two in the communal area. The girl at reception, who turned out to be the daughter of the owner, was really nice and helped us by ringing the otogar (main bus station) and checking bus times for us. As I expected, there was only one bus to Veliko Tarnovo - a night bus. Apparently they couldn't reserve tickets for us over the phone, but they said that so long as we got there a decent amount of time beforehand, tickets wouldn't be a problem.

We arrived over an hour in advance. The main otogar is absolutely huge, so beforehand I was worried that it might take us ages to find the right bus company (Huntur). Almost as soon as we stepped out of the metro station we were accosted by a guy asking where we wanted to go. As soon as I told him, he insisted that if we followed him he would be able to get any ticket for us. My suspicions were raised so I said no thank you, we already know where to get our tickets from and how much they should cost. Just then I looked up and what should I see on the other side of the station but a 'Huntur' sign - so we headed off at a brisk pace, saying no thank you again to the dodgy guy.

Buying our tickets from Huntur was easy. We had a lot of time to kill after that so we went inside the main station building to explore. We bought some dinner, drinks and snacks to have on the long journey.

The bus was comfortable enough and we managed to get a decent amount of sleep. The journey took 12 hours this time and seemed to go smoothly. I remember waking up once and seeing that we were stationary at the side of the road, but thinking nothing of it and going back to sleep after ten minutes. Well, later on (after we'd arrived in VT) it turns out that the bus had broken down and we'd been there for about three hours!

Goodbye Turkey - we will definitely return!

Posted by 3Traveller 07:03 Archived in Turkey Tagged market palace turkey istanbul hostel buses dave turkish_cuisine Comments (0)

Back to Europe

Istanbul


View Teaching and Travelling Abroad on 3Traveller's travel map.

Edit from March 2019: The restaurant we went to was called Ahırkapı Balıkçısı - it's still going! Definitely a place I recommend! Piya Hostel is still going too and I recommend that as well.

Dave woke up not feeling well at all - but he made it OK to Istanbul. By the end of the flight he was feeling better. Instead of getting the bus, metro and tram to our hostel, we took the more unusual route of a bus to the Asian seafront (Sabiha Gökçen Airport is on the Asian side, but miles and miles out of the city itself), with a view then to take a ferry to the European side and lastly a tram and a walk to Piya Hostel, the same place we had stayed at before our Cappadocian and Aegean adventures.

Before we got on the ferry we had a great Balik Ekmek each for lunch on a café-boat. I really recommend Balik Ekmek - such a simple idea (freshly-caught fish boned, grilled and stuffed into a crusty roll with some optional salt and lemon juice) yet it works so well.

On arrival at Piya Hostel we went straight to bed for a nap - we had had an early start in the morning. Late afternoon we started out on a walk round the corner to the Arasta Bazaar and the Istanbul Handicrafts Market, but only about 100m away from the hotel Dave stubbed his toe and it was bleeding, so we went back to our room and I patched it up for him. The market would have started packing up by the time I finished, so we decided just to have some dinner instead.

We had tried to visit this restaurant before, but if was closed for Ramadan then. Ramadan has finished now though, so as soon as we realised it was open again we were there like a shot. It was a tiny seafood place just round the corner. I had a swordfish skewer and Dave had shrimp salad; the shrimps were massive and the chunks of swordfish on my skewer weren't far behind! We shared a cold (but cooked) aubergine and tomato appetiser as well, plus some baklava when it came to dessert and we still had space. The food was great and the owner/waiter was very softly spoken and charming, not pushy at all like some of the waiters are round here.

IMG_6711.JPGIMG_6712.JPG

After dinner we walked back to the waterfront in order to fulfill a long-held desire of mine; to at least dip my fingers in the Strait of Bosphorus. This was a little more difficult than it sounds, because the 'beach' consists only of big boulders piled up so closely together that there's no space on the ground to stand. I did, however, manage to get my hand in the water; mission successful.

Posted by 3Traveller 01:03 Archived in Turkey Tagged airport turkey istanbul hostel buses ferry bosphorus dave turkish_cuisine Comments (0)

Mediterranean Turkey: Izmir

Cappadocia, Istanbul and Izmir


View Teaching and Travelling Abroad on 3Traveller's travel map.

Our shuttle to Kayseri airport was due to leave at 8 am; this was exactly the same time that breakfast was supposed to start. Luckily for us, the lovely owner of Star Cave Hotel kindly got some breakfast for us five minutes early!

The airport shuttle stopped at another hotel to pick up another couple. The journey to the airport was rushed; at one point the driver tried to run a red light but had to brake suddenly when he realised he wouldn't make it through if he carried on. The woman in the other couple started shouting and swearing at the driver, who said he was sorry but was in a big hurry because he was also delivering a passport urgently to someone who had forgotten it. The woman wouldn't let up about it, but by the time we arrived at the airport she had quietened down and even thanked him when she got off.

It was another sunny, clear day and throughout our shuttle journey we got a wonderful view of Mount Erciyes, which is an extinct volcano and the highest mountain in Cappadocia. Its peak looked covered in ice and snow.

IMG_6466.JPG

We were met by a 40 minute flight delay, but time passed quickly and then we were in the air, saying goodbye to Cappadocia. Our final destination of the day was Izmir, on the western coast, but we had to go via Istanbul. I was lucky enough to get a window seat, so I took lots of photos.

86b1a940-4657-11e9-80b8-7350b2ff3618.JPGIMG_6546.JPGIMG_6538.JPG872dde20-4657-11e9-af57-5bd163eed2fd.JPGIMG_6555.JPG

The views were amazing, especially of the coastline of the Sea of Marmara as we got closer and closer to Istanbul. At one point before that, when we were still fairly near the centre of the country, I saw something strange - a huge area of whiteness, definitely not a cloud. It was quite far in the distance, but it looked like a massive white hole with water pouring inwards from every side - very surreal. I guessed it was probably a salt lake.

IMG_6478.JPGIMG_6484.JPG

Our 1hr 20 minute flight to Istanbul was followed by an hour's wait in transit and then another 1hr 20 minute flight to Izmir. Izmir is the 3rd biggest city in Turkey and lies on the coast of the Aegean Sea. It was formerly the fabled Greek city of Smyrna...

IMG_6570.JPGIMG_6566.JPGIMG_6588.JPGIMG_6591.JPG

We took a train from the airport to a station just round the corner from our hostel. Our room in this hostel - ('Shantihome') - did not have a lock; apparently it went against the philosophy of the owners to have locks on the doors... Oh well - we were only here for one night, so we just took our valuables out with us when we headed out for dinner and a walk-round.

We were in the leafy neighbourhood of Alcansak, next to the seafront - the sea being the Aegean Sea! Neither Dave nor I had been to this sea before. Izmir is apparently a proudly liberal city for Turkey, and I soon noticed a much higher proportion of women not wearing headscarves than we'd seen in Istanbul and Cappadocia. There appeared to be fewer mosques, too.The atmosphere did seem to have a Mediterranean tinge to it, with the liberality I mentioned before, the lemon tree we could see out of our window, the mussel stalls on the pavements in front of nearly every café and restaurant, and the palm trees.

ab4d14e0-4659-11e9-af57-5bd163eed2fd.JPGIMG_0177.JPG

After Skopje and Ruse, in Macedonia and Bulgaria, it was lovely to see that Izmir has made a lot of their waterfront. It's beautiful, with a wide stretch of well-kept grass and walkways. There's no beach, but rather a very low brick wall laid with wooden planks for people to sit on. Although I think the tide was in, the sea was too low to be able to touch it when I sat with my legs over the edge.

IMG_0169.JPGf4597d90-4659-11e9-80b8-7350b2ff3618.JPG0644.JPG0645.JPG

After walking around for a while we stopped in a pedestrian street parallel to the seafront for dinner at a café. I had a delicious type of kebab I'd never had before, which I think was local to Izmir; it had tomato sauce, yoghurt, parsley and either beef or lamb as well as flatbread. Dave had a mixed kebab which came with rice, salad and yoghurt. To finish, Dave had Turkish tea and I had my best Turkish coffee yet - all the ones I've had so far have been good, but this was the absolute best so far.

IMG_6598.JPGIMG_6605.JPG

Posted by 3Traveller 14:55 Archived in Turkey Tagged volcanoes hotel airport cappadocia turkey istanbul izmir hostel dave turkish_cuisine Comments (0)

Arrival in Cappadocia

Istanbul and Göreme


View Teaching and Travelling Abroad on 3Traveller's travel map.

At 03.15 am we got a shuttle to Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport. Waiting for the shuttle at three am, we were expecting all the streets to be deserted, but to our surprise we saw several men sitting at tables in front of closed restaurants and cafés, chatting with friends. We guessed it might be something to do with Ramadan - I know that they can't eat until sundown, so they need to get all their meals in during the night.

IMG_6017.JPG0915ebf0-4507-11e9-9d96-b72ec48a1acd.JPG

At the airport there was a beautiful exhibition of travel photography to look at while we waited for our flight, which took off half an hour late at about 07.30.

IMG_6055.JPGIMG_6059.JPGIMG_6060.JPG

An hour and five minutes after that we arrived at Nevşehir Airport, where we were picked up and taken to our amazing hostel/hotel in Göreme.

IMG_6076.JPGIMG_6070.JPGIMG_6073.JPGIMG_6078.JPGb19ffa90-4507-11e9-9d96-b72ec48a1acd.JPGb183c000-4507-11e9-bb81-2972ce7a3a24.JPGIMG_6111.JPGDSC_0764.JPG

Fantastic place, fantastic setting amongst lots of fabulous 'fairy chimney' rock formations. Our hotel is built into one of them! We were welcomed with free tea, coffee and plate of delicious, moist cheese puff things.

IMG_6130.JPG1d9d8c30-4508-11e9-9067-63cf28dc72aa.JPGIMG_6124.JPG

After half an hour or so of sitting in the lovely courtyard, we were allowed to check in early. Our room is amazing! it's cavernous yet comfortable, with stone walls and ceiling, a tiled floor, cupboards cut out of the walls and archway over the head of our bed. There's a terrace above us with a spectacular view...

IMG_6160.JPGIMG_6153.JPGIMG_6150.JPGIMG_6146.JPGDSC_0766.JPGDSC_0767.JPGDSC_0774.JPGDSC_0768.JPGDSC_0770.JPGDSC_0771.JPG

We caught up on sleep for several hours, before venturing out to explore. It is so pleasant here! Just round the corner from our hotel was a large area of ground covered in piled-up blocks of white stone - a stonemason had clearly been at work here in the open air, though he wasn't to be seen at that moment.

DSC_0775.JPGDSC_0776.JPG

Five minutes later, just as we passed a mosque the muezzin began his call to prayer. After a lovely wander round town we had an early dinner at a café - a Turkish savoury pancake and some rice pudding for me, a sandwich for Dave and a chocolate milkshake each.

DSC_0789.JPGDSC_0778.JPGDSC_0782.JPGDSC_0777.JPGDSC_0806.JPGDSC_0792.JPGDSC_0798.JPG8337ea20-450a-11e9-9c2e-b778c44f1a65.JPG

Posted by 3Traveller 12:25 Archived in Turkey Tagged art night hotel airport cappadocia turkey istanbul dave turkish_cuisine Comments (0)

Modern Istanbul

Istanbul


View Teaching and Travelling Abroad on 3Traveller's travel map.

On Sunday we had a relaxed morning and didn't leave the hostel until early lunchtime. Our destination was the area of Beyoglu, the heart of modern Istanbul. We had spent 95% of our time until then in Sultanahmet, the historic area, so we wanted to see what the modern centre was like. Taksim Square, in the centre, is on a large hill, so we took the funicular railway up there from the tram station. We'd just taken the tram across Galata Bridge from Sultanahmet.

The funicular turned out to be underground, unfortunately, so we didn't get any amazing views on the way up. However Istikal Caddesi, the main pedestrian street, leads down the hill from the square, so we got some good views from there.

DSC_0748.JPGDSC_0744.JPGDSC_0743.JPGDSC_0747.JPG

Although part of modern Istanbul, Beyoglu still has some historic buildings. As soon as we'd crossed the square we found a small art gallery which turned out to be in the former cistern building used for Beyoglu's water storage in the 18th and 19th centuries when the population of Istanbul spread. The artwork there was of a good standard, all modern paintings with price tags; each section was dedicated to a different artist and in a couple of them the artists were actually there, working on paintings. It was interesting to look round.

IMG_9833.JPGIMG_9834.JPG6c6b9280-4373-11e9-b67a-65cd0203e0fa.JPGIMG_9829.JPGDSC_0752.JPGDSC_0751.JPG

After that we wandered down Istikal Caddesi, taking everything in. Although filled with international shopping chains, it also has Turkish Delight and baklava shops, 'vitamin bars' (juice bars where the fruits are piled up at the front), cafés with Turkish ice cream stands at the front, shops with foil-wrapped slabs of chocolate piled up against the windows, and some other miscellaneous shops.

IMG_9870.JPGIMG_9848.JPGdacdc810-4373-11e9-8862-5f39d783ec9d.JPGIMG_9842.JPGDSC_0759.JPG

We went into a sweet shop after I noticed a sign saying Marron Glace- I knew these aren't common in the UK so I bought some, and then we noticed the baklava counter so Dave bought us one piece each of chocolate baklava and walnut baklava, both of which were delicious.

71587280-4374-11e9-8862-5f39d783ec9d.JPG714b7a30-4374-11e9-8997-93bd635c9f13.JPGIMG_9867.JPGIMG_9868.JPG

There was an antique book and map shop which we enjoyed browsing; we had a late lunch at café, where we both tried things we hadn't had before- I had a lovely springy textured wrap filled with spiced (not the hot kind) lamb, tomato and onion, and Dave had a similar thing but in a sandwich and with beef instead of lamb; we visited the Catholic church of St Anthony, where I lit a candle and we admired photos of papal visits over the last century.

ba3b0c10-4374-11e9-8862-5f39d783ec9d.JPGba70e920-4374-11e9-8997-93bd635c9f13.JPGb9737650-4374-11e9-8862-5f39d783ec9d.JPGIMG_9861.JPGba6b1cc0-4374-11e9-b67a-65cd0203e0fa.JPGba2d9e90-4374-11e9-8997-93bd635c9f13.JPGIMG_9859.JPG

We ate lunch upstairs in the café, so we had a good view of the street outside. While we were there, we heard lots of loud chanting begin, and van loads of armed police with riot shields arrived and stood to one side. Part of a demonstration was going on just round the corner. Later on it passed us- very loud, but seemingly not dangerous.

IMG_9847.JPGIMG_9844.JPG

I also visited a dervish lodge, now a museum, where these followers of the Sufism sect of Islam lived until it was outlawed by the Turkish government in the 1920s. Dave didn't fancy it so looked round the attached historic graveyard while waiting for me. It was interesting to read the given information, see the artifacts from their daily lives (which included musical instruments, turbans, cooking utensils, coffee-making and serving utensils and walking sticks the dervishes used to lean on and sleep as they couldn't lie down on beds) and see the arena where they whirled during the ceremony that required it. They had a map of where else in the world these dervish lodges were; I saw the one in Plovdiv, now a restaurant, where Mum and I had dinner once in May.

IMG_6006.JPGIMG_5996.JPGIMG_5930.JPGIMG_5960.JPGc578e560-4375-11e9-b67a-65cd0203e0fa.JPGIMG_5943.JPGc541cfd0-4375-11e9-8997-93bd635c9f13.JPGc6335bc0-4375-11e9-b7fc-13bb92167097.JPGc61cc680-4375-11e9-9b3e-dba247803b08.JPGIMG_5994.JPG

My wrap had been smaller than expected, so to keep myself going after I left the museum I got myself a chicken kebab from a cafe - it was very tasty and the bread had a texture very similar to a ciabatta. Then we walked past the historic Galata Tower and down to sea level. We got ourselves two different types of syrupy batter things from a street seller before we reached the tram station.

IMG_9876.JPG1b67f330-4376-11e9-aea9-597211e93458.JPGIMG_9872.JPGIMG_9877.JPG

Posted by 3Traveller 13:20 Archived in Turkey Tagged art turkey museum istanbul dave procession turkish_cuisine Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 11) Page [1] 2 3 » Next