Every city has its own “mysteries” -things that sometimes locals even do not know about. The list of things I have mentioned below are probably known by at least some locals. Others may have heard of by them; but not yet tried. In other words, these are not common “to-do”s. During the harsh and busy daily routine of their lives people usually do not have the time to go to these places even though they may have heard of them. These are a bit off-the-beaten-path, but totally enriching experiences.
1. Sedef Port: Perfect get-away place that is like out of the city, while it is actually within the city. Sedef Port is located on Sedef Island, the smallest of the Princes’ Islands. With its own beach and restaurant, Port Sedef is a peaceful place. Ideal for brunches, romantic getaways, friendly celebrations. Embedded within nature, it is not the best place for action seekers.
2. Suna’nın Yeri: An artisan fish restaurant, just off the Kandilli port on the Asian Istanbul. Located right on the port and almost literally next to the coast line, the view and energy of Suna’nın Yeri (or Suna’s Place) is unbeatable. As it is behind the port, customers of Suna, get to see the locals in their daily routine: getting on and off the ferry, rushing to work or returning from it… The view of Bosphorus is not hidden by the port. It lies to the back of the port; vast at a wide angle towards the Sea, the bridges and the European coast. It is best to take the ferry from the European side to Suna’s Place. Only then does the experience become fully-fledged and immense. It is a pleasure to be on the ferry that arrives to the other side, apart from being there and watching the ships come and go. The ferry runs regularly until a little after 6.30 PM. One could easily come here for lunch; or come with the ferry for dinner and then return via public transportation or cab or Sea taxi.
Food at Suna’s is always fresh. There is not a vast variety; but the available meals are off good quality and taste. Price for value is the perfect fit. Start with mashed aubergine salad and fave (mashed peas and herbs), continue onto hot appetizers such as shrimps, clams and calamari, move onto the fresh catch of the day. Mark it off with home made baklawa.
[Image my own]
3. Turkish Flavours: What if you could learn more about Turkish cuisine, its flavors and intricate secrets inside a very Turkish home to begin with? Turkish Flavours as it describes itself “conveys the sense of expansive hospitality that is innate among Turks everywhere at home and in restaurants, from typical fish restaurants to haute Turkish dining establishments.” Selin Rozanes, who is the pioneer of the idea and owner/manager of Turkish Flavours offers cooking courses in her own house, flavour workshops with well-known Turkish chefs and other unique culinary activities (depending on the season and number of participants) such as culinary sailing tours. The significant part of her tours is that rather than going around and about Spice Market and having some dinner at some Kebab House -which would be the generic culinary tour with most operators- Ms. Rozanes spares a lot of her personal time and encourages you to spare some of yours to go around actual farmers’ markets and fish markets very early in the morning (such as 6-7 am) to shop for ingredients whilst explaining which ingredient is necessary for which part the cooking experience. Then, the cooking session occurs inside a Turkish home, followed by a lunch that is prepared by yourself.
There are also tailor-made groups, street food yours, competitions and more. For more information contact Selin Rozanes.
4. ATV Safari: This one goes out to adventure seekers. ATV rides are offered in many different spots including Sapanca and private beaches around Kilyos.
In reality beaches around Kilyos offer multiple adventurous activies, such as Kiting, parasurfing, surfing, riding the ATV cars, tennis, volleyball and many other sports. Well known and decent beaches include Golden Beach Club, (212) 252 22 92, Solar Beach Tel: (212) 201 26 12 and Non-Stop Beach (212) 201 23 03. There is usually a symbolic entrance fee to the private clubs, but there are also many public beaches. Entrance usually costs around 10 to 15 euros depending on the day of the week. Some beach clubs, such as Golden Beach, offer also accommodation on the beach.
Safari rides are not limited to Kilyos. Tours such as Fez Tourism take you out to anywhere that is appropriate for a bit of adventure. In Sapanca ATV Safari is the name of the service provider that offers paintball, ATV rides and skiing activities through out the year. For their ATV rides, there are different routes and options. From 60 minute rides to hours rides, one has the option to choose the type of road they want to try and how long they want it to last. Depends all on you endurance…
Naturally there are many other tours and service providers offering adventurous activities such as ATV rides and paintball. These two mentioned above are two of the most decent examples.
5.Fortune telling: Getting your fortune told out of a coffee mug is a very traditional belief in Turkey. Not just ladies, but men alike have their fortune told every now and then, even though they say they do not believe in that at all. To find a good fortune teller is a challenge. You have to know someone who knows someone and call up the fortune-teller and arrange a meeting. Nevertheless, if you are just after the fun of the scheme, there are many cafes around Istiklal and Kadiköy, which offer free fortune-telling in return for a cup of Turkish coffee. Melekler Kahvesi behind Emek Cinema was the pioneer of this kind of service. There are many other cafes now Symbol in Nişantaşı to begin with and many other for which even I do not have names or addresses. For those who are in for a bit of fun… Not that it will definitely come out as true. We say “do not believe in fortune, but do not leave yourself fortune-less either.”
[Custom image courtesy of: Turkish Flavours]