While enjoying a beer and celebrating a friends birthday at ‘salt peanut’, (a nice cafe and beer house in Shida, Taipei [Belgium beers NT180 + Food NT$150+] ) we meet a Turkish girl who reminded us of the great time we had in Ayvalik, Istanbul and Turkey in general. Because of this reminiscing I have decided to write about our last week in Turkey.
Yeni Cami – New Mosque
As we left our adopted home of Ayvalik we spent a few days traveling north stopping at Gallipoli to pay our respects to all of the Kiwis, Australian, Indians and Turks who fell during the tragic battle that took place. From there we traveled towards the big city of Istanbul; with 13+ million Turks there was sure to be some great food here. Walking the streets of the beautiful old city would leave us famished and ready to eat. With killer Kabaps, amazing mezzes, and perfect pilaf it was always hard to choose what to eat.
Shop window full of Turkish Delight
Istanbul as a city had so much to offer with with the old streets being full of beautiful rustic gems hidden around every corner. The first Mosque that we stumbled upon in Istanbul was the “New Mosque” or Yeni Cami even though this mosque only gets a small mention in guide books it blew our minds with its grandness and was a good step before visiting the Blue mosque, Ayasofya or even Topkupi Palace. The intricate detail and scale of these building are like nothing that that is seen in New Zealand and even blows away even the most amazing temples that we saw though South East Asia.
Inside the Blue Mosque
After several days of walking the streets, the grand bazaars, spice markets, getting lost and eating great food we were wanting to get out of the bustle of the city and have a breather. So for a few Lira we bought our tokens and hopped on a ferry from Kabatas heading towards the Prince’s Islands. We had heard good things about the third island, Heybeliada and decided to give it a look. The Ferry ride was around 50 minutes, steaming south down the Asian coast, as you look back towards the city you truly feel the enormity of Istanbul and its 13 million inhabitants; as the city continually sprawls with high rise and low rise far beyond what you can see. Istanbul is a mix of all East and West, modern and Traditional a city that needs to be seen from all angles to be understood.
Heybeliada is a lovely car free island with restaurants along the water front selling fresh seafood and bowls of hot Corba with fresh bread. Behind the promenade are the local houses that climb the hill look back onto Istanbul. As well as eating Haybeliada has a pay park where you can swim (extra money or just jump the fence like most the locals) and bush walks that seem to snake all over the island giving spectacular views looking both ways across to Istanbul or out in to the sea of Marama.
View from Heybeliada prince’s Islands Istanbul
Most of the walks are not sign posted but if you walk up the hill you should meet up with the track that runs along the ridge. On our return to the city Night was falling and city sky line was magic as the mosques, bridges, towers and high rises created an striking silhouette backed by the glowing sky.
This was to be our last nigh in Turkey; earlier we had walked through a small fish market with open air restaurants along to the north east of the Galata bridge which looked delicious. Fried fish and fresh salads with a side of Raki just what the Turks do best and a fine farewell to Turkey.
Hamsi remains with a quick placemat sketch of Yeni Cami
Pile of pistachio baklava
Turkish wet burgers – Not a normal Turkish meal but we were told by a friend that the are a must in Istanbul
Hand of Fatima
More Turkish delight at the Istanbul spice and nut market
Other great links to check out.