istabul-turkey-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-21Istanbul had been on my bucket list for quite some time. The land where east meets west, in my mind it was a Mecca of sweets, coffee and other wonderful things. The Turkish pop music only made me want to go more, the culture that was always said to be so hospitable and full of life.

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My friend Olivia and her free spirit and craving for travel and the discovery of culture, moved to Istanbul late last year. Louis and I thus had been dreaming of stopping by, so we spontaneously booked some round trip tickets for a long weekend. A whopping 3 hour flight from Paris, we made it to the land of bling and baklava. We were welcomed by freshly folded Turkish towels in Olivia’s love shack, topped with soap sporting Louis’s last name, which we quickly learned is a soap brand and literally means “pure”. Cherry on top.

A few tips on these cliché but fantastic places: Grand Bazaar and Spice Market, beyond worth it. You could spend hours in both. Accept the tea they offer you in each stall and don’t be afraid to bargain your eye candy. Grab some freshly squeezed pomegranate juice on the street to boost your body. Buy some Turkish delights to bring back home for friends and family, nuts or olives do the trick as well. Wander around and find secret rooftop cafés where you can sit and chat with a local, enjoy a random pastry.

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On a side note, one of my favorite parts of the trip was strolling in the neighborhood market to make our own Turkish breakfast (did you see my video of the Turkish breakfast Olivia and Elif made in Paris? Well, there will be a version 2 coming up). If you whip out your best “merhaba” the vendors will give you a big smile.

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As for our Saturday night in Istanbul, we kicked off the evening at the lovely Akin Balik (in Beyoğlu, reservations recommended). If possible, bring a Turk with you to make sure what you order is spot on, but regardless, order heaps of mezze, some Raki and enjoy. The main fish we shared at our dreamy dinner were leverk and çupra… unfortunately I don’t have the translation (cough, Sedat). This restaurant has hanging lights, Turkish music, Efes and the works. It’s all outside on the seaside, and to allure despite the winter chills they heat the tables by burning coal at your feet — which is initially hot hot hot but then you realize it’s pretty fantastic. We then wandered to the Karaköy area, followed by taxying (why not) up to Taksim to check out a nameless mysterious and trendy cocktail bar ran by a American fellow off of Istiklal Street.

Our Sunday, and last day, was filled with sunshine and was perfect for our touristy excursions. We strolled around the breakthtaking Blue Mosque and  Hagia Sofia, visited the rainbow staircases and strolled through the trendy Galata neighborhood with coffee breaks at adorable cafés. We finished off the weekend with a stop by the Bosphorus Brewing Company, for some Turkish beer action. I’m not sure we could have had a better 3.5 days in Istanbul. There is still so much to see, and we certainly plan to go back.

Tips on playing tourist in the city: Don’t be afraid of the public transportation. The metro and trams in Istanbul are easy to navigate and can get you to and from major points of interest (you can buy individual tickets at all stations, so keep your lira coins!) Taxis are a good deal if you’re not going far, but try to know where you’re going, as can happen in any city, tourists can get taken on the long route. Wifi is everywhere, so don’t fret about being connected and looking up places to go while you’re out and about.

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Akin Balik – Traditional restaurant on the sea, perfect for a dinner out. Mezze/seafood. Reservations recommended.

Bosphorus Brewing Company – Brewery / Taproom / Restaurant

Café Galata – Café / Sweets

Constantinople – Hagia Sofia / Blue Mosque

Grand Bazaar – Turkish Marketplace

Karakoy Gulluoglu
– Baklava heaven

Kavalti Evi – Turkish Breakfast (Order menamen!)

Mavra – Café / Restaurant / Concept Store

Miss Pizza – Italian Restaurant / Pizzeria

Spice Market – Enough said

Unter – Restaurant / Bar (with music at night)

Velvet Café – Trendy Café / Snacks

 

Comments

22 Comments

  1. February 27, 2014

    These photos sum up beautifully our magical weekend together!
    Please come again soon <3

    • Meg #
      March 21, 2014

      It was magic. I am anxious for another trip.

  2. February 27, 2014

    I really enjoyed this post!! I have wanted to go to Istanbul for quite some time now..I hope I’ll be able to in the near future. Those pomegranates look so good..

    • Meg #
      March 21, 2014

      Thank you! I hope you do make it, it is such a beautiful city!

  3. February 27, 2014

    A wonderfully detailed city guide of Istanbul as seen through your eyes. I almost felt as if I was walking through the Grand Bazaar alongside you. One of my favorite reads thus far!

    • Meg #
      March 21, 2014

      Aw, thanks lady!!! So glad you liked it. Hope you’re well!
      xx

  4. February 27, 2014

    Gorgeous photos! I’m planning a trip to Istanbul in April, and this post has me even more excited.

    • Meg #
      March 21, 2014

      Magical! Enjoy your trip there! Order menemene everywhere.

  5. February 27, 2014

    I’ve always wanted to go to Istanbul! It looks amazing. When I get around to going I’ll have to hit you up for more info. Maybe we’ll travel together one day ;)

    • Meg #
      March 21, 2014

      Yes, no problem! I’d love to give you the down low when you go! I am already dying to go back. And yes for some travels! When you come Europe bound, do let me know!
      xx

  6. February 28, 2014

    Istanbul is so magical — and these photos are worth a million words! Tips I would add: eat as much Balik Ekmek as possible; play with the wild cats wherever you can; drink lots of Turkish coffee and tea, and always order the menemen. Thanks for sharing your beautiful trip!
    xxx

    • Meg #
      March 21, 2014

      Thank you, Jessica! :)
      And yes, I agree, one must always order menemen. And for coffee & tea, it is a must to over consume.

  7. Tom Wither #
    March 1, 2014

    Meg- Thanks so much for sharing your incredible trip with us. You just captured the city with your amazing images. I feel that I was there………almost.
    Someday I will get there. Love all the colors, the food, art, etc.
    Thanks!
    Tom

    • Meg #
      March 21, 2014

      Tom, I truly hope you’ll make it there soon! Maybe I’ll be able to join you :)
      Bisous

  8. March 3, 2014

    This post made my heart melt as an Istanbulite+Parisienne! I ended up here through your Turkish coffee post that I stumbled upon on bloglovin’. Looks like you had great time and I’m so glad you did.

    Xx
    Asli

    http://www.zeparisienne.com

  9. Kim #
    March 18, 2014

    Ahhh this post excited me because my bf and I just went to Istanbul for the first time a month ago, so it’s great to see all these photos and and recognize places. So much to see there, makes me want to go back already!

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