In Part 1 of the Trouble with Istanbul, I looked at the Eminonu side of Istanbul in Turkey. In Part 2 I look at the highlights of Beyoğlu, with Taksim Square, Istiklâl Caddesi and Galata Tower.
Beyoglu Istanbul, Turkey Side:
Coming from Sultanahmet, we felt as though we’ve been transported through time. With western trappings, like McDonalds and the Ritz –Carlton, it was easy for us to forget our mosque-raiding from the day before. Taksim Square in Beyoglu Istanbul is incredibly easy to get to. Virtually all the public transport systems have a transfer point there. We took the tram from Sultanahmet to Kabastas, and then shot up on the Funicular to Taksim. Sadly, we didn’t spend too much time here, as we were passing through to Istiklâl Caddesi and beyond. But we did need to make a pit stop for a Kizilkayalar wetburger!
The Kizilkayalar Wet burger
This should be an entry in my Istanbul food blog, but because I personally enjoyed the “wet burger” so much, it warranted a place on my must-do list. Specifically the Kizilkayalar wet burger. First impressions, I ain’t gunna lie, I was a bit scared when I approached the cloudy steamy burger sauna and saw sweaty, pre-made moisture-logged buns stacked to the brim. Finally coming to grips with my perception of what a burger should be, I mustered the courage to try one. And I am so glad I did! The texture was as expected, but the tomato broth soaked buns were a pleasant surprise. There wasn’t much in the sense of meat, but a thin disproportioned patty. However, I could almost presume this was purposeful to keep the meat from overpowering the flavor of the buns. But I digress. Long story short, try one when you get chance! Read more at my food blog.
Probably the most famous pedestrian street in Beyoglu Istanbul, we found Istiklâl Caddesi to be an intoxicating afternoon walk that we thoroughly enjoyed. A hodgepodge of architectural styles from the 19th century to more recent days, the buildings corral the street creating a veritable tunnel of designer clothing stores, and baklava pastry shops. Within the not-so-secret alleyways you’ll even find pubs and rooftop Nargile (hookah) cafes to whittle away the hot afternoon sun – just like we did! Normally I wouldn’t suggest a shopping strip as a must-do, but Istiklâl Caddesi is pretty iconic for the Beyoğlu side of Istanbul. You’ll have fun, or the very least come out the end a few pounds heavier from the Turkish delights.
The best way to approach Istiklâl is to start from Taksim square and head towards Galata Tower and Sultanahmet. It’ll save you from having to double back after a long day of walking.
Kallavi Nargile Café
Whether you call it Hookah, Shisha, or Nargile, for us it was hands down one of the fondest memories of Istanbul that we have. In need of rest and respite from the afternoon sun in Beyoglu Istanbul, we literally stumbled upon Kallavi Nargile Cafe. Located on the 3rd or 4th floor, Kallavi has a welcoming outdoor terrace to drink cay (Turkish tea, pronounced Chai) and people watch. What made our experience particularly memorable was the opportunity to hang out with the locals playing checkers all while puffing on our apple flavored tobacco. Tobacco offerings are probably similar elsewhere, but I can’t speak enough praises about the venue, and the overall experience.
A few streets away from the southern end of Istiklâl Caddesi in Beyoglu Istanbul, and heading towards the Karakoy tram stop, is Galata Tower. It’s difficult to miss the stone tower as it looms over most of the surrounding buildings. Sadly we did not go up the tower and in retrospect we wish we had, as we’ve heard amazing things about the view. Still, if you don’t go up like us, the witch-hat styled roof and position of the Tower is a visually imposing structure worth it’s own set of photos.
I know this is only scratching the surface of what Beyoglu Istanbul represents, and I’m so far from doing it any justice. Istanbul is an amazing destination, and it would be impossible for me to discover all its secrets and personality in only 3 days.
Good news though, it gives my wife and I another reason to go back.
Follow our travels at Blaze Your Adventure.