Try to catch a football (soccer) game in Istanbul even if you don’t care about football.
In any other city, you’d want to watch the game live at a stadium. But if you are in Istanbul you want to be in a hookah bar. I would recommend "Ali Baba Nargile" if you are a hookah neophyte.
For a start, throw away any preconceived notions you might have about a Turkish tailgating party. This one will make all your lukewarm, Budweiser-charred, store-bought-burger memories fade.
Walk into the red carpeted cavernous room and you’ll feel like you are in a Caliph’s lounge.
The ceiling is punctuated with the dim light of multicolored Moroccan lanterns. The chairs and tables are made from sheesham wood inlaid with mother-of-pearl. The flags of every soccer-playing nation paper the walls. Grab a seat.
You’ll find that the tables are piled with several plates of fresh fruit, pistachios, olives, and iced almonds. Yup. This is bar food in the Mediterranean. And if you are worried about the dearth of antioxidants. a steady steaming stream of teacups will appear miraculously.
You'll notice that the young Turks need the energy. They are rabid fans. The team names like Galatasaray and Fenerbahce sound more like warring medieval tribes and less like teams in a football league. The crowd cheers, sighs, and curses just like football fans in Buenos Aires, Madrid, or Liverpool.
Only difference: You won't find a single drop of alcohol.