When in Istanbul ..... Beyoğlu

I don’t really know what I expected Istanbul to look like. Middle Eastern, I guess, knowing that it is a predominantly Muslim country. What we found was, in many respects, a delightful surprise. We spent our first day and night in Istanbul in Beyoğlu, a cosmopolitan area on the European side of Istanbul that reminds you of Paris or Barcelona, all cobbles and vintage-looking apartments built on the side of the hill. We promenaded with the locals down Istiklal Street from Taksim Square all the way down to the Galata tower, stopping at nargile cafes to sip apple tea and watch the locals play backgammon. We smiled at the dondurma sellers teasing their customers and throwing in a bit of entertainment in with the chewy Turkish ice cream. We made way for the historic tram to rattle past us and took small detours to the Flower Passage and the fish market. Just below the Galata Tower, a sort-of non-descript café entrance led, via an elevator, to the most amazing rooftop lunch view possible. In the forefront, it was all European rooftops, in the middle distance, the Bosphorus and Golden Horn, with its endless churn of boats in every size. And then off in the distance, the amazing Bosphorus bridge to the left and Sultanahmet – you could instantly see why armies had wanted that patch of land since the year 300AD. In the evening we joined the tourists and locals in the cobbled side streets of Istiklal and had mezzes at one of the restaurants in the vibey Nevizade Street.

PS. If you find yourself in Beyoğlu, we can really recommend the hotel we slept in – Peradays is a modern small hotel with very chic rooms and a killer breakfast! All within a two-minute walk from Istiklal Street. The neighbouring hotel, the Armada Pera Hotel, was our second choice and we did end up at their sister hotel in the old city for the rest of our visit.

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