Istanbul – What We Enjoyed Most

Mad About Children

About 98.8% of the Turkish population seemed to be mad about children – or at the very least, our little blond, smiley one. While this meant that Theo was given far more chocolate than we would have chosen, it was also an amazing gateway into conversations with random people, who would chat with Theo, chat with us adults, and pull out their phones to proudly display pictures of their own children or grandchildren.

I loved that a fondness for children wasn’t limited to women; Theo would also regularly enchant men of all ages, including teenage boys. In the USA, I feel like it’s generally considered socially acceptable for men to be crazy about their own children, but not children overall. In Turkey, this is definitely not the case.


I loved, loved, loved Turkish food. My favorite places are below.

Çiya Sofrası: aims to preserve traditional Turkish cuisine from around the country. Everything was amazing, but I was particularly wowed by the sumac sherbet, eggplant dessert, and soups. I went there twice with Theo and Brian, and twice by myself. 

Van Kahvalti Evi: their clotted cream with honey was indescribably tasty. I accidentally ordered two additional cups of tea instead of my check, but I was eventually able to pay my bill and leave.

Cafe Privito: delicious huge breakfast served on a million small plates.

Drip Coffeist: okay, so I went here for cappuccinos and pour-overs, not Turkish coffee, but the combination of good coffee and super-friendly people made this my daily coffee-shop stop.

Fazıl Bey’s Turkish Coffee: my favorite spot for Turkish coffee.




At about a dollar a ride, Istanbul’s ferries are an amazing deal. For another 40 cents, you can have a glass of tea while you gaze at the Bosporus. I managed to make some really lame excuses for taking the 20 minute ride from Galata to Kadıköy. Really, the ferry needed no excuse. (Then again, neither did Kadıköy, which is the home of both Çiya Sofrası and Fazıl Bey’s Turkish Coffee from above.)



I like bathing rituals in general. This one consisted of:

  1. Having water dumped over my head. (Theo giggled when he heard about this. Having water dumped over his head is one of his least favorite things right now.)
  2. Laying on a hot marble slab for about 15 minutes.
  3. Try to relax while having the top layer of my skin scrubbed off.
  4. Better succeeding at relaxing while being covered in an enormous blanket of bubbles and washed.
  5. Completely succeeding at relaxing while getting a massage.

Unlike the onsen I visited in Japan, this seemed to be less a modern, frequent bathing ritual and more a spa-like experience that nods at an older tradition (at least at Kılıç Ali Pasha Haman where I visited.) However, it was still super lovely and relaxing.

Street Music

This video that I took really sums up my love for street music in Istanbul, and possibly my love for Istanbul in general.

(This is also from Kadıköy, by the way. While I enjoyed many parts of Istanbul, if I returned I would stay in Kadıköy. It’s farther from the tourist sites and feels more like a livable neighborhood – which, in the end, is what we’re after in the places we visit.)