To celebrate my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary we took a family trip to explore Turkey, a culture and country unfamiliar to all of us. Spending four days in Istanbul, one in Cesme and two in Bodrum was not nearly enough to soak up all the goodness of Turkey, but it was a start and I can’t wait to go back.
Though Istanbul is not the capital, it’s the economic and cultural center of Turkey. This city is unique in that it’s situated on two continents, Asia and Europe, which are divided by the Bosphorus strait. The former capital of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, Istanbul is rich in history and culture so we decided to devote four days to this massive city.
Cesme and Bodrum are both great summer vacation spots on the Aegean coast. Though we visited during off-season, the weather was gorgeous, so we enjoyed not only the sun and water, but privacy as well. We explored a quaint little town called Alacati in Cesme, with historic stone houses, antique markets and a harbor renowned for windsurfing.
Since we spent the most time in Istanbul, I decided to focus on a couple of exceptional restaurants and stores there.
Sabahattin is another popular seafood restaurant in Istanbul. It’s situated in the historic part of town, Sultanahmet, where the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace are located. While this is more of a tourist area than anything else, Sabahattin is one of the few exceptions that draws the locals to this district. That’s a pretty... full article
Two Turkish friends of mine had, on separate occasions, recommended Poseidon as their favorite seafood restaurant in Istanbul. My visit confirmed that it’s an unforgettable experience. Poseidon is located along the Bosphorus coast in Bebek, the poshest area of Istanbul. When the weather is nice, they open up the outdoor terrace, which has an... full article
Hamdi is renowned for their kebabs. The restaurant has been around since the 70’s although not always at its current location. It’s well situated, next to both the Spice Market and the Grand Bizarre. On a day when you plan to tackle both markets, Hamdi is the ideal place to have lunch. We were seated on the fifth floor by the window, overlooking... full article
Hunkar was yet another totally fabulous dining experience, this time in the upscale shopping area of Nisantasi. Serving traditional Ottoman cuisine since 1950, Hunkar has the classic ambience and easy-going yet professional service of an old-school restaurant. Though its current location is deemed modern, the ambience is definitely that of an... full article
This little candy store in Bebek is a treasure that gracefully produces and displays traditional Ottoman sweets and chocolates. Meshur Bebek Badem Ezmesi is a stand-alone store in Bebek that was established in 1904. The name of the store translates to “famous Bebek almond paste.” Rather than offering the ubiquitous “Turkish delights”... full article
Of the markets or bazaars we visited, the Arasta Bazaar was the loveliest. It’s a small and simple market consisting of about forty stores lined on both sides of a single lane, selling traditional artistry like carpets and ceramics. It’s right by the Blue Mosque, and used to be stables during the Ottoman period. There were fewer people at this... full article
Bodrum Peninsula in southwest Turkey is a vacation hot spot for both native Turks and international travelers — it’s considered the Côte D’Azur of Turkey. And Maçakizi is the place to stay! On the weekends, yachts dock by the waterside where Maçakizi guests lounge. It’s not beachfront, but it’s equally beautiful and you can jump in the... full article