Turkey Day 3 – Finally! Authentic Istanbul

I woke up really excited on day 3 in Istanbul as we had no scheduled activities and would be able to just wander and explore the city; eat at authentic local places. We started the day finally being able to try Turkish Coffee:

This would be my first of many throughout the trip (I was able to try Turkish Tea yesterday in the market). Turkish coffee is a little bitter, thick and has a lot of grit at the bottom of it. You drink it until the grit. Servers will usually ask you how much sugar you want to add to tea or coffee. It is also served quite often with lokum.

I did some research on places to eat lunch and made our way to Cagri Karadeniz for Turkish pizza and kebabps. Along the way, we passed the impressive Galata Tower:

Upon arrival at the restaurant, I got excited to see mainly locals and man hand rolling dough.

Here was the menu:

The server brought some bread and Ezme (Turkish salsa). The bread was light and fluffy (a huge contrast to yesterday’s horrible dry bread):

…and finally, Turkish pizza (note that there are so many variations of pide in Turkey, and despite talking to a few people, I have still not figured out how to order exactly what I wanted):

We also got the Beyti Kebap which is kebap wrapped in bread with tomato sauce. The meat was extremely moist and was such a relief given the disaster of yesterday’s lunch. Beyti Kebap was apparently invented by the restaurant of the same name which we were supposed to go to on our first night, but missed the reservation due to flight delay.

To end the meal, Turkish tea in the iconic cups that I would come to love.

After lunch we decided to stroll to, and down, Istikal street which is a main pedestrian shopping street. Think 5th avenue on steroids in terms of the number of people. Very touristy place.

Along the way, we got to check off another item from our “to try” list; Turkish ice cream. The people serving it will put on a show. The reason is that the ice cream is resistant to melting and has a chewy texture due to the addition of some flour type ingredient. Here was the show:

We walked down Istikal to Taksim square.

After this it was time to see the city from the water. We walked to Eminonu (the old city side) and took a 90 minute ferry ride (round trip) down the Bosphorus. If you want to ride the same ferry (very reasonable price), its called Turyol Eminonu. You will get gorgeous views:

One thing I was excited to see was the bridge which connects the European and Asian sides of the city. Istanbul is the only city to be on two continents. Upon return, we were able to sample another authentic, local street food balik ekmek (fish sandwich).

They have boats near the ferry station where they sell them directly off the boats.

You can squirt a little of the lemon juice in the bottles on each table on the sandwich. After, we had these street donuts which were cheap and delicious:

As we headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner, we saw this gorgeous sunset from the Galata bridge:

Tomorrow, I will tell you about the best dinner with a view you can get in Istanbul. Usually good food and nice views are hard to find, but not at this place…

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