May 21, 2018

A City on Two Continents: I S T A N B U L

    Historically known as Constantinople and Byzantium, the present day ISTANBUL is a magical city that strategically lies on two continents; Asia and Europe making it an East meets West wonder. It's the only city in the world nestled on two continents. Scents of exotic spices, baklava, coffee, fresh fish, and flowers fill the air and stray cats roam the cobblestone streets mingling with locals and tourists alike. Located on both sides of the Bosphorus, a narrow strait between the Black and Marmara Seas. Istanbul has a remarkable architectural heritage and visitors are mesmerized by its mosques, monuments, museums, palaces, and water fountains.

    To truly immerse in Turkish culture, a homestay allows you the benefit of getting a deeper understanding of the everyday life of the locals. If you find the right family to connect with you can receive outstanding recommendations of what to do and see in Istanbul and enjoy authentic homemade family meals with your host. There are those that prefer the luxury and privacy of a hotel and there are plenty of hotels to choose from throughout this large city.

    Things to keep in mind while in ISTANBUL:

    #1.Begin your journey by picking up a Turkish language book. Even a small knowledge of the language will allow you to exchange a few sentences in Turkish with the locals.

    #2.Choose the type of lodging you're most comfortable with. From Airbnb listings to hostels to classy hotels it's important to enjoy your home away from home while in Istanbul.

    #3. Try as many different foods as you can. Turkish food is healthy and delicious and chances are you'll never experience anything quite like it elsewhere. 

    #4. Don't rush if you can help it. It's better to experience the attractions at a moderate pace than rush and miss out on things you might never see again.

    Turkish Coffee:

    Instanbulites enjoy drinking coffee on a daily basis The reason Turkish coffee is so exceptional is because of the preparation and presentation. The coffee is blended with high quality beans then roasted and finally grounded; extra fine. It is made in a metal pot with a long wood handle named "ibrik" or "cezve" and served in a traditional fincan (tiny cup). 

    How to make Authentic Turkish Coffee:

    1 cup of cold pure water
    1 tablespoon of extra fine Arabic ground coffee (powder consistency)
    1 cardamon pod or 1/8 teaspoon cardamon powder
    sugar (optional) 

    Bring water and sugar to a boil in an IBRIK. Remove from heat, add coffee and cardamon. Return IBRIK to heat and allow the coffee to boil. When the coffee foams remove it from the heat. Pour into a fincan (tiny cup) and allow to sit for a few minutes. Sip the coffee slowly. 

    If you wish to avoid sugar, just boil the water by itself without the sugar, then add the coffee and cardamon.

    Turkish Delights: (Lokum)

    Made with exotic ingredients, Turkish Delights are small fragrant cubes of jelly made of chopped dates, hazelnuts, and pistachios and infused with rosewater or citrus fruit juice. You'll find these tasty delights throughout Istanbul. They can be enjoyed with a cup of Turkish coffee too.

    Where to Get Turkish Delights in Istanbul:

    1) Haci Bekir: famous store located at Hamidiye Sad. No. 83 | 34110 Eminonu,
    Istanbul, Turkey

    2) Hafiz Mustafa; Hobyar Mahallesi, Hamidiye Cd. No:84, 34112 Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey

    Highlight on Stray Cats in Istanbul:

    They're found all over ISTANBUL; hundreds of stray cats who roam throughout the city. These furry creatures who make Istanbul their home find bowls of food and water left for them by local residents. They're one of Istanbul's star attractions and part of the community. Some of these felines will even follow you through the streets of ISTANBUL.

    GRAND BAZAAR: (Covered Market in the Fatih district)
    Open: Monday- Saturday, closed Sundays & holidays

    With over 4,000 shops the GRAND BAZAAR is one of the largest covered markets in the world. Here you can spend hours bargaining with shopkeepers on items you wish to purchase.

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