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The Galata Bridge

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No visit to Istanbul is complete without walking along, ferrying under, taking the tram across, or enjoying a drink on the Galata Bridge. The bridge spans the Golden Horn to connect the city’s two European sides, and is one of Istanbul’s most iconic landmarks.

Galata Bridge

Walking across the Galata Bridge, it’s very likely you’ll find yourself hooked. And I don’t mean “addicted”, but very literally hooked. In the face, with a hook. The bridge’s most enduring image is its shoulder-to-shoulder fisherman casting off into the water below. The almost unbroken line of bobbing rods is a romantic sight, but not all the fishermen pay careful attention to where they’re swinging.

The Galata Bridge is on its fifth iteration, with the current version dating from 1994. The first design for a bridge at this location was drawn by none other than Leonardo da Vinci in 1502. Sadly, his plans never came to fruition, and Istanbul had to wait until 1845 before Galata was connected to the old town.

The bridge is quite low to sea level, meaning that only small ships can pass under. And those, just barely. Its height also makes it an unlikely spot for suicides: in fact, it’s not uncommon to see local kids jumping off for fun.

One of the nicest ways to end a day in Istanbul is to grab a drink at one of the many restaurants found underneath the bridge. Even if you’re not thirsty, just walking past these places is a memorable event. Competition is fierce, and the doormen will try every conceivable trick to make you choose their establishment over the others. It can be comical; after we said “no” to three in rapid succession, another guy approached us rubbing his hands, and said “Now is my turn! You can not resist me!” Having been brought to laughter, and (more importantly) offered half-off beer, we succumbed to his charms.

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May 27, 2013 at 2:35 pm Comments (4)

Istanbul’s April Showers

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We had been suffering through some rough weather for weeks, but spring finally arrived toward the end of April. The bad weather had us a bit of an emotional rollercoaster — overcast days are not normally our thing, but somehow the clouds struck a melancholic note appropriate to Istanbul.

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April 29, 2013 at 3:15 pm Comments (3)

Simits, Pide and Künefe: Familiar Turkish Favorites

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While in Istanbul, our taste buds were exposed to a lot of new sensations. But some of our favorite discoveries were familiar standards, common to every country, given a slight Turkish twist. Simits are Turkish bagels, a pide is a Turkish pizza, and künefe… well, that’s just Turkish heaven.

Istanbul-Simits

Simits are usually purchased from roving street vendors who are either pushing carts or balancing towering stacks on their heads. But we were lucky enough to eat them in the best way possible: early in the morning, straight out of the oven. The Tophane Tarihi Taş Fırın bakery was found conveniently between our apartment and the tram, and their freshly-baked simits quickly and firmly established themselves as our preferred on-the-go breakfast. These sesame-covered bread rings strike the perfect balance between crunchy and chewy.

Mixed-Pide

Some foods, such as liver kebab, require working up a bit of bravery. And then there’s the pide, which requires no courage at all. It’s just a canoe-shaped pizza, packed with familiar things like meat, sausage, cheese and egg, buttered and baked to crispy perfection, then sliced into horizontal strips and served. Delicious. We’ve had excellent pide at Şimşek Pide near Taksim Square, and especially at Hocapaşa Pidecisi by Sirkeci Station.

Sweets-in-Istanbul

Another immediate favorite was künefe, which we first tried at the Akdeniz Hatay Sofrası, but later sampled in many, many other places. Layers of cheese and flour cooked in a copper dish and then drenched in syrup and covered in pistachio sprinkles. Doesn’t that sound delicious? Yes it does, and although we always feel an acute sense of shame while shoveling syrupy, stringy bites of cheese into our faces, we were never able to resist.

Locations: Tophane Tarihi Taş Fırın | Şimşek Pide | Hocapaşa Pidecisi

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April 8, 2013 at 11:46 am Comments (9)
The Galata Bridge No visit to Istanbul is complete without walking along, ferrying under, taking the tram across, or enjoying a drink on the Galata Bridge. The bridge spans the Golden Horn to connect the city's two European sides, and is one of Istanbul's most iconic landmarks.
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