Istanbul, Day 1

After landing at Ataturk Airport and retrieving our luggage, Adam and I followed the signs to the Metro and hopped on board.  We had to transfer at some point and I was surprised to see so many people on the tram around noon on a Friday.  As the tram became increasingly crowded, I realized that perhaps taking public transportation from the airport might not have been such a good idea after all but riding public transportation and getting your first glimpse of Istanbul from the tram isn’t such a bad introduction to the city.

We checked into our hotel, made our way north to the docks at Eminonu, and boarded a ferry for Kadikoy.

As we rode the ferry, we reminisced about other locations where we’d taken boat rides (Tigre Delta outside of Buenos Aires, River Seine in Paris, the water taxi from the airport in Venice, etc).  After we landed in Kadikoy, we set off to find our lunch destination.  The restaurant was situated within a popular market area and it took us some effort to find but the effort was completely worth it.  The salads and cold mezzes, which are self-serve, are divine.  The herbs in the salads were rich and complex and the greens in the salads were likely native to Turkey.  The stuffed grape leaves and peppers were the best I’d ever had.  It was our first meal in Turkey and probably our best.

Bulgur pilaf- little did I know that I wouldn’t find pilaf so good again in Turkey

After lunch, we walked around Kadikoy–the area by the ferry terminal in particular had a lot of people but as we walked further out, the sidewalks became less populated.  As we walked by a cafe, I couldn’t help but notice this kitty through the window.

We walked through an area with numerous bakeries and poked inside to check out their pastries

By the time we made our way back towards the market area, I was pretty tired–I had been waking up early during the week leading up to our trip and hadn’t been able to sleep on our red-eye flight.  We plundered on and Adam found our way back to the food market area where we had eaten lunch so we could take some photos.

We boarded the ferry and made our way back to Eminonu.  Most of the restaurants I wanted to try were in Beyoglu but getting there by foot from Eminonu requires crossing the Galata Bridge and then walking up a long flight of stairs past Galata Tower.  After we had done this, we found ourselves on Istiklal Caddesi, a street closed to vehicular traffic which forms the spine of Beyoglu and is probably one of the most popular pedestrian thoroughfares in Istanbul.  We had dinner at the restaurant housed within Istanbul Culinary Institute, toasted to Adam’s birthday, and then made our way back down through Beyoglu, across the bridge and back to our hotel.  Because of early check-in, we were placed in a room on the first floor which was an earshot away from the hotel’s noisy restaurant.  Between the restaurant noise and the street noise, it was not a very restive night.

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