Monday, July 20, 2015

Spring break to Constantinople

Being a Greek travelling to Constantinople is a sentimental experience for me, the air, the churches, the Greek Byzantium monuments, Hagia Sophia, the few Greeks friends that live there the atmosphere...Never boring, crossroads of different cultures, bazaars, exquisite food, shisa shops, skyscrapers, humble neighbourhoods, the views of the Bosporus and lots of people...14.000.000 million people in one city make things interesting and diverse enough for everybody.

Spending Easter in Constantinople was a sure bet for fun for us and the nice weather forecast would only make our time there even better.

It was spring and all the roads where filled with colorful tulips the national flower of Turkey.
The Tulip were originally a wild flower growing in the Central Asia and were first cultivated by the Turks as early as 1,000 AD. The flower were introduced in the Western Europe and the Netherlands in the 17th century by Carolus Clusius, a famous biologist from Vienna.

After a good rest I wanted to try boza, I have heard about this drink and how tasty and nutritious it is, so we decided to visit Vefa Bozacısı.Vefa Bozacısı has been in business since 1876, and its founder Hacı Sadık Bey is the one who originated boza as we know it today. This historic shop sells only boza between October and April. During the warm months from April to October, you can find ice-cream, lemonade, and kuru üzüm şırası (a sweet, non-alcoholic drink made of fermented grape juice).

The Turkish healthy alternative to Milkshake...Vefa Boza, served in a glass with a spoon, a layer of sprinkled cinnamon and roasted chickpeas floating at the top, it is not a drink is a cultural experience. It is a malt drink made from fermented wheat, has a thick consistency, a low alcohol content (usually around 1%), and a slightly acidic sweet flavor.The Ottoman empire was known to feed its army with boza as it is rich in carbohydrates and vitamins.

On the day of the Greek Easter we decided to visit (Χάλκη) Heybeliada, in the ferry along came a bride and groom, freshly married and ready for their honeymoon in the green island of Bosporus. 

    During our boat trip we admired the impressive villas, the buildings and we kept daydreaming...

Enjoy an open-air barbecue without bringing your own gear! At Değirmenburnu Restaurant in Hebeliada, you can bring your own meat and grill it in an a charcoal barbecue they prepare for you! So you get the heat just right and you start enjoy preparing your own steaks.We ordered a couple of salads and starters and we enjoyed our perfect steaks... 

Springtime in Constantinople is not complete without a stroll in the picturesque Bebek area. By the yachts and trendy coffee shops, restaurants, boats, expensive flats, villas and pretty, well dressed people. Be prepared though for terrible traffic as the place is very popular during sunny days.

Enjoy a cool treat in the historic Baylan, Turkey’s oldest patisserie. Their signature dessert, the Kup Griye, is a potpourri of ice cream, caramel sauce, finely ground pistachio, coarsely chopped almonds, crunchy bits of toffee and crème Chantilly. You will also find there apart from the patisserie, a three-story restaurant and a bar that is perfect for after-work drinks. The menu, which was designed with the consultation of the three Michelin starred French Chef Alain Ducasse.  

From Bebek to a more underground part of the city, near Istiklal at your right and then left is Beyoglu neighbourhood where you will find Kenan Usta a famous place for kebab, prepared in front of your eyes in the main grill. I will be honest, I found it quite pricey, for a restaurant with limited seats, tavern style. Hot tip: prefer the traditional lamp kebab, I had chicken and I found it tasteless. For a cheapest solution try a kofte ekmek - kebab sandwich from the small shops around the restaurant you will not be disappointed. 

In the district of Beyoglu you will also find  Hagia Triada ("Holy Trinity"; Greek: Ιερός Ναός Αγίας Τριάδος, Ierós Naós Agías Triádos) a Greek Orthodox Church . The building was erected in 1880 and is considered the largest Greek Orthodox shrine in Istanbul today.It is still in use by the Greek Community of the city. The Church is built in neo-baroque style with elements of Basilica, with the unusual features of twin bell towers, a large dome and a neo-gothic facade.

Tired of walking? Take the tram, go down Istiklal, pass the shops with the music instruments and the numerous fruit shops and there you are...Galata Tower!

Galata tower is a nine-story tower is 66.90 meters tall and was the city's tallest structure when it was built. The elevation at ground level is 35 meters above sea-level. There is a restaurant and café on its upper floors which command a magnificent view of Istanbul and the Bosphorus.

Madam Despina is an old tavern in Kurtulus area where you can enjoy raki and savory food with live traditional Turkish music. See a video here...

At the end of day, Constantinople is always a good place to enjoy a traditional Turkish coffee, after a good meal with friends and take it easy.Slowly absorb the images around you, inhale, a sweet, warm feeling that makes you want to come Polis.

No comments:

Post a Comment