A Night In Istanbul
Istanbul is a major city that straddles Europe and Asia across the Bosphorus Strait. It’s like having your breakfast in Asia and later on your lunch or dinner in Europe. One city… two continents… Amazing!
Turkey in particular is one of those countries considered as delicious destination. Though Turkish cuisine varies across the country, it is largely influenced by Central Asia, Greeks, Balkan and Middle Eastern to name a few.
Finally, after days of continuous discussion, listening, participation and not to mention feeling sleepy the entire duration of seminar, where coffee is the only thing that keeps me awake has ended. I went back to my hotel room to prepare for a unique tour I booked through viator.com. It’s just exactly what I needed.
I met our wonderful and friendly guide who was a great interpreter as well at Sultanahmet in a cold rainy night. He directed us to a lesser known streets of Istanbul where tourist are few. In a few minutes, I will experience a home-made Turkish food prepared for us by a local Turkish family in their humble home. I will be able to get a glimpse of the normal life of an Istanbulite away from all the tourist show.
“Hos Geldiniz,” said by a lovely middle aged woman and her two sons as they welcomed us in a small packed decent apartment with mouth watering aroma of the food she prepared for our dinner. The meal, a fine example of what to expect in a Turkish home was tasty and humble. Fresh vegetable salad with lemon, pepper and olive oil dressing. Lentil soup with chopped lamb meat that goes well with the fresh bread. It was nothing grand, the food was served in a low table that requires us to seat at the carpeted floor. According to them, the cooking of Istanbul inherits many elements of Ottoman Court cuisine, with lighter use of spices, a preference for rice and a wider availability of vegetable stews.
As a Muslim majority country, Turkey practices its religion in their daily lives. Though Turkey is considered as an open country, older generation are more on the conservative side. This I mention, because during our conversation over dinner, most of the conservative Muslim don’t allow their women to mingle with other men of no family relationship with them especially if the head of the family is not around. That’s why her two sons was there to accompany her during our visit. She was nice enough to talk with us through our interpreter and answer every questions we asked.
I believed that a country’s food being served in a table of a warm hospitable house, tells the story of its people and provides opportunity for the host and guests to interact, learn and exchange cultural backgrounds. Food of every destination a traveler visits represent a lot of history and soul of the country and its people.
As we said goodbye to our host, the head of the family arrived from his work. He asked us to stay a little longer. However, we need to go for another scheduled Turkish experience, the “Hookah Shisha Pipe” known as “Nargile.”
“Nargile” has been around for centuries. Also known as shisha, is a flavored tobacco smoked in a hookah, usually mixed with molasses or honey. For Turkish, it’s a way to connect with family and friends to unwind after a busy day from work. It’s a time just to relax and enjoy the simple pleasure of life.
At the end of this experience, smoking is really not for me hahaha! However, smoking “nargile” while spending hours lounging around a pipe while drinking tea or Turkish coffee is part of Istanbul’s charm and will forever be a part of Turkish culture.
This is indeed a very enlightening tour and a great insight into Turkish life in an authentic setting. I highly recommend this experience. It was handled by Intrepid Urban Adventures of Istanbul through viator.com.
It was half pass midnight when I reached the comfort of my hotel room in “The Ritz Carlton” Istanbul, a 10 minutes walk from the famous Taksim Square. It’s one of the best hotel I ever stayed while traveling.
Istanbul oh Istanbul… one city within two continents… surprisingly stunning… whatever it is, “Seni Seviroyum Istanbul!”