I will be recounting exactly what a Turkish friend of mine, yet also a tourist friend of mine, did on last Sunday in Bebek. It was tiring, yet nevertheless very very enjoyable; and is also the only way to enjoy Bebek in my opinion.
It might be useful first to explain why and how this friend is both a local and a tourist at the same time. Born here in Istanbul, my friend lived for the most of his life in Istanbul until he came to the age of 18 and left for College overseas. He never returned after that and moved to all different parts of the world, working as a consultant, i-banker and finance professional. He comes every now and then for long weekends to his home city and lives the city indulging himself to the fullest.
Strolling through Bebek with him started with a long Turkish style breakfast/brunch in Mangerie. If you choose to start along the same path make sure to arrive either quite early, as early as 8 – 9 AM in the morning or reserve a table on the terrace. The terrace view is excellent! and also very refreshing on a cool Sunday morning. Your other options for breakfast are Bebek Hotel -also with a very good view of the Bosphorus-, Koru Kahve, Bebek Kahve or Happily Ever After. All of these places are lined up next to one another along the Bebek coast -a very tiny and narrow street. Bebek Kahve is an artisan cafe right next to the Sea and is very very primitive. Yet, it attracts all the elites of Istanbul as well as actors and actresses. Bebek Kahve has fewer meals for breakfast, but all that they have is extraordinarily delicious. Recommend are the poğaça (Turkish pastry), simit kaşar (bagels toasted with cheese), börek with minced meat (another Turkish pastry) and any of their egg dishes, whether it is sahanda egg (egg cooked in a shallow cooking pan) or menemen (refer back to the Turkish breakfasts article).
After breakfast, wonder off along the coast line in either direction whether towards Arnavutköy where you will see fishermen fishing and joggers running, or towards the Rumeli Fortress. If you go to Rumeli Fortress, you may also go in and look at the artifacts in there remaining from the time of the conquest of Istanbul in the 15th century. If you walk in the other direction towards Arnavutköy, you may hike a fishermen’s boat and go rowing on the Bosphorus. If working your muscles is not your thing, take the ferry that arrives soonest and do a little tour on Bosphorus. We went for rowing with a fishermen’s boat. You can usually close a deal for approximately 10 to 25 euros per an hour and a half, but it is also up to your bargaining power.
You may just as well wander into the Bebek Park and watch dog owners walking their dogs, people playing with their children, and lovers holding hands and gazing into the sea lovingly. Lie down on the grasses and sunbathe if you like, or just buy a magazine from the nearest book store (there is one across from the Park, next to the famous Bebek Badem Ezmeci Shop, selling international magazines and books).
Once you have digested the breakfast, return to the center of Bebek town. Head for Lucca, and try to find an available table on the side walk. Order few tapas to the middle and a bottle of cool rose wine. Just chill 🙂 Recommended tapas off the small plates menu are mashed artichokes, shrimp or duck rolls, sushi or sashimi and the cheese platter. By 5 PM in the afternoon, the music will also be getting louder and there will be a chill type of happy hour with happy people around you.
If you are one of those people with an empty stomach at all costs and at all hours of the day -like my friend is- head for a fish restaurant for the closure of your day. Poseidon in Bebek is a well known, elitist and expensive one. Another good and very old one is Bebek Balıkçısı. If Bebek has bored you by this time, head for Fishmekan in Arnavutköy. Dine on fish and rakı like the Turks do…