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