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Marie Claire (South Africa) - - TRAVEL -

If you pick up al­most any travel guide to Istanbul, it will start some­thing like this: Istanbul is a melt­ing pot, a place where east meets west – a blend of the ex­oti­cism of the Mid­dle East and the com­forts of Europe.It is all that,but also it is not. Istanbul is a place unto it­self, a city whose age and com­plex­ity defy these trite clichés, a great cap­i­tal and a mas­sive net­work of neigh­bour­hoods. Istanbul can be over­whelm­ing,and it can be very kind: on a hot day an old man will of­fer you a bot­tle of cold wa­ter; dur­ing Ra­madan you’ll see peo­ple cook­ing food for the street cats. You can walk past a 17th-cen­tury ham­mam, a bou­tique sell­ing hand­made shoes, a 100-year-old res­tau­rant, and a van of riot po­lice all within a few min­utes. As any lo­cal will tell you, even when Istanbul drives its res­i­dents crazy, they can’t bear to leave. WHERE TO STAY and many of the city’s mu­se­ums. It’s also full of ho­tels, which makes it a very or Moda.

One of its more cos­mopoli­tan neigh­bour­hoods is Ci­hangir, pop­u­lated by old

char­ac­terised by art gal­leries and el­e­gant old build­ings, many of them de­signed Christie’s novel Mur­der on the Ori­ent Ex­press, is in this area, too. Even if you don’t WHATTO EATAND DRINK break­fast dishes are bal kay­mak – honey poured over cold clot­ted cream – and men­e­men, eggs cooked with a tomato and red pep­per sauce. Get on a Bospho­rus tea and a simit Ana­to­lian-side neigh­bour­hood of Moda.

köfte ek­mek lah­ma­cun, a thin crispy sheet of bread with ground lamb and spices, eaten with fresh pars­ley and lemon juice. Of course, there’s ke­bab – but don’t go for the street sell­ers, whose ke­bab is of du­bi­ous ori­gins. Find a , a res­tau­rant spe­cial­is­ing in var­i­ous forms of grilled meat.

In Istanbul, din­ners start late and go on for as long as the wait­ers can keep stand­ing. Be sure to go to a mey­hane drink of choice is

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