Our Week in Istanbul, Turkey

Sorry for our lack of posts lately! We have had trouble finding decent Wifi lately, and have been so busy hopping from city to city that we have hardly had a moment to take time to write about our adventures. We spent most of our time in Istanbul eating and socializing with new friends, and we loved every moment of it. As far as travelling during coronavirus goes, we felt much more at ease in Turkey than we did in Croatia. People wear masks all the time out here, probably because the population is significantly higher, but we felt a lot more comfortable exploring here since people were taking it seriously. In Croatia, masks were only worn in grocery stores and on buses, so it’s reassuring to see masked faces while walking around, and hand sanitizer provided at every business. Hopefully Turkey is able to get their cases down since they seem to be taking the virus seriously.

When visiting Istanbul, it’s not hard to find an awesome, affordable place to stay. There are dozens of Air BnBs and boutique hotels to choose from, along with a wide selection of hostels that attract travellers from around the world. After scouring HostelWorld for a place to stay, we decided to go with Cheers Vintage, a hostel just down the road from the Hagia Sophia, and a great place to meet other travellers. We were The vibes here are quirky and colorful, and we met the COOLEST people here. We will definitely return here everytime we are in Istanbul. The bar that sits on the top floor has a spectacular ocean view, amazing music, and is a wonderful way to meet other travellers. If you ever find yourself passing through Istanbul, we highly recommend you check out Cheers Vintage and all it has to offer.

Our favorite place to wander around these days is the  Spice Bazaar. As soon as you enter, the heavy aroma of the combination of a thousand different spices hits you like a brick wall. A very pleasant brick wall. The Spice Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey is one of the largest bazaars in the city. Located in the Eminönü quarter of the Fatih district, it is the most famous covered shopping complex after the Grand Bazaar.

A visit to Istanbul couldn’t be done properly without making stops to explore the Grand Bazaar, the Covered Market, the Grand Market, or Kapalıçarşı in Turkish. Pay yourself a visit to one of the most spectacular landmarks in Istanbul, and even the whole world, as it’s the longest and oldest known covered market in the whole globe.

We have been stuffing our face everyday with so much doner kebab.
Doner kebab is a type of kebab, made of meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie. Seasoned meat stacked in the shape of an inverted cone is turned slowly on the rotisserie, next to a vertical cooking element (usually burning wood or coals). The outer layer is sliced into thin shavings as it cooks, and a layer of fat is placed on top so it can drip down over the meat as it cooks.

Only the freshest meat – and those sliced to perfect thinness – can get that perfect balance of soft, juicy, tasty goodness of a good doner kebab. It does not matter whether it’s chicken, beef, lamb, or even pork kebab – they have to be fresh, which is not hard to find on the streets of Istanbul.

We tried this Turkish coffee….It’s beautiful, honestly, and absolutely delicious.

Turkish coffee is a style of coffee prepared using very finely ground coffee beans without filtering. The water is heated with hot sand…we weren’t really sure the exact process but was fascinating to watch. Despite the name, the style originated in Yemen and was brought to Turkey during the period of Ottoman rule. Turks themselves used to call “Turkish coffee“ Arabic coffee since it came from an Arab territory.
Turkish coffee is prepared in a cezve, a special small pot with a long handle that is traditionally made of copper.

Turkish coffee is served in small cups, most comparable to espresso cups. However, unlike the espresso shot, the Turkish counterpart is supposed to be drunken slowly, enjoying every sweet sip until you get to the bottom, where the grounds are too thick to be consumed.

We also drank a million cups of çay (pronounced like chai) tea while in Istanbul. It’s served with sugar cubes, and often given for free after meals, or offered for a very very low price. It tastes like an English breakfast teat, but the tea itself is grown in Turkey.

Desserts are a popular part of Turkish cuisine. There is an enormous range of desserts in Turkey. From baklava and milk desserts to rolls and fruit or nut desserts, all of these dishes make up the rich culture in Turkey.

Baklava is layered dough, specifically phyllo dough which is flaky and thin, stacked with butter and sugar syrup. It is usually cut into rectangles or circles. There are many Turkish varieties of this popular dessert. It was originally created in the time of the Byzantine Empire. The traditional preparation involves stuffing nuts like pistachios, hazelnuts or almonds between layers of leaves known as yulfka leaves. We strongly recommend you to eat it fresh. And Turkish delights are starch and sugar gel often containing fruit or nuts and flavored with rosewater, citrus, resin, or mint. The texture is gummy and sticky, some of the flavors are unfamiliar to American palates, and the whole thing is very, very sweet.

Overall, we were obsessed with the food and the overall vibe of Istanbul. We plan to return after our hitchhiking as entire down the coast of Turkey, and explore the town for two more weeks. We met such cool people there, and can’t wait to go back and grub out on all the amazing food.

Published by bumblingbackpackers

Shannon Del Prince is a content creator and copywriter based out of Boulder, Colorado. Her passion for fitness, dance, travel, and wellness drives her creative endeavors. Currently, she manages the up-and-coming travel blog Bumbling Backpackers while working full-time as a freelance writer. When writing, Shannon goes out of her way to make valuable information accessible to all audiences.

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