December 23, 2012

Insider's Istanbul


YOU have done the sights - the Hagia Sofia and the great imperial mosques, the Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaar, the Bosphorus cruise and Basilica Cistern. With the tourist boxes ticked and the past squared away, it's time to start exploring the real, living city.

You may have had enough of museums, but Orhan Pamuk's new Museum of Innocence in the bohemian neighbourhood of Cihangir is worth a visit, if only for the abiding oddness of the concept as much as anything in the exhibits. The museum and Pamuk's eponymous novel were conceived at the same time, and as Turkey's Nobel Prize-winning author wrote the book about love and obsession set in 1970s Istanbul, he also collected artefacts.

Istanbul is one of the gourmet capitals of the world, but you have to dig a little to find its most interesting vernacular food. To really get to grips with the authentic tastes of the city, spend a half hour or so browsing istanbuleats.com - a site and, for the old-fashioned, a book compiled by passionate connoisseurs of Istanbul's waterside fish-grilling joints, its raucous raki-and-mezze restaurants (known as meyhanes) and its endless varieties of street food.

Read more on The Australian | Travel & Indulgence: Insider's Istanbul

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