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Turkey/Greece (02 Jul-20 July)

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Emniyetevleri Mah. Eski Büyükdere Cad., Emniyetevleri Mahallesi, Yamaç Sk. No: 7, 34415 Kağıthane/İstanbul, Turkey
In Istanbul, the most authentic place to smoke nargile (also known as hookah and shisha) is Corlulu Ali Pasa Medresesi. The 300-year-old Medrese evolved from a religious school and dervish lodge during the Ottoman times to bazaar stores in the...
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Ragıp Gümüşpala Cd. Eminönü Otobüs durakları yolu karşısı, Rüstem Paşa Mahallesi, 34116 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Rather than take the suggestion of our guidebook (and spend 6 hours floating on the Bosporus only to navigate our way back to the dock of origin with a little trickery), we headed to the west of the Galata docks in Eminonu and bought a ticket for...
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İstiklal Cd., Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
The lifeblood of modern Istanbul is the two-mile-long pedestrian street Istiklal Caddesi (Independence Avenue), running from Taksim Square to the Tünel train station. It's equal parts touristy and local, commerce and culture, and strolling down...
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İstiklal Cd., İstanbul, Turkey
After a long night of drinking and dancing in Taksim, a pile of nohutlu pilav (chickpeas and rice) from a street vendor will give you energy to stumble back home or to your hotel. And it's a bargain at only 1.50 Turkish lira.
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Gümüşsuyu Mahallesi, 34437 Beyoğlu/Istanbul, Turkey
Warm, fragrant, and filling, these borek are typical Turkish quick eats. They can be stuffed with either ground spiced meat (occasionally with black currents and/or pine nuts) or a cheese and parsley mix. They are enjoyed best fresh out of the...
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Sinanpaşa Mahallesi, Köyiçi Meydanı Sk., 34353 Beşiktaş/İstanbul, Turkey
One of my favorite foods in Turkey (and there are many) is a serving of fresh kaymak clotted cream, drizzled with honey, and spread on bread. You can buy it in the supermarket or find it in some breakfast spots, but everyone's favorite is Pando in...
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Taksim Square is at the heart of the Beyoglu neighborhood; the pedestrian-only Istiklal Caddesi, its main artery, ends here at the square. You'll also find Gezi Park and a monument to the Turkish Republic. Crowds come here to shop, dine, see and...
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Caferağa Mahallesi, Moda Cd. No:166, 34710 Kadıköy/İstanbul, Turkey
A cross between baklava and a croissant, katmer is a sweet, airy, pistachio-drenched Turkish breakfast pastry guaranteed to give you a sugar high that will last the whole day. Made from sheets of thin phyllo dough, kaymak (clotted cream), sugar,...
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Mecidiye Mahallesi, Mecidiye Köprüsü Sk. 1/1, 34347 Beşiktaş/İstanbul, Turkey
"Kumpir" is a baked stuffed potato served throughout the city. But the local "thing to do" is venture to Ortakoy near the first Bosporus Bridge to make your own and consume it by the water's edge. There's a number of kumpir stalls near the famous...
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Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey
There's no cost attached to one of Istanbul’s most distinctive photo ops, and the only lines are from fishing poles. Cross the historic Golden Horn via the Galata Bridge, where fishermen from every walk of life jostle for space, and...
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Cankurtaran Mh., Ayasofya Meydanı No:2, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
The sun sets over Istanbul as I am coated head to toe with aromatic clay and served fresh fruit sprinkled with pistachios under the heavenly dome of a 457 year old hamam. Tenderly, my attendant washes me before lathering my body with olive oil...
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Istanbul, Turkey
During my (far too short) time in Turkey I frequently saw vendors selling fresh-squeezed pomegranate and orange juice. I sampled my fair share as well and enjoyed every last sip.
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I had just left the Spice Bazaar behind me when I noticed the entrance to Yeni Camii (New Mosque). It was late afternoon, and I was already exhausted from a very long day of sightseeing. I wanted nothing more than to call it a day but I was...
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Mimar Kemalettin Mah, Büyük Tulumba Sok., 34490 Beyazıt/Fatih/Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
During a long weekend in Istanbul recently, I signed up for a tour of Istanbul's street food with Istanbul Eats. Tired of the Taksim scene and having been to Istanbul before, the culinary walking tour was a wonderful way to see a new part of the...
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Alemdar Mh., İncili Çavuş Sk. No:15, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
On arrival to Istanbul, many tourists order the chicken şiş (chicken kebab) for a meal because it's familiar and safe, but they're really missing out on some of the best food in the world! I encourage anyone visiting Turkey to gastro-travel...
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Ömer Avni Mh., İnönü Cd. No:50, 34427 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Topaz is regarded as one of Istanbul's most elite upmarket restaurants and it’s the place to be if you wish to celebrate a special occasion. From their terrace restaurant you can indulge in their degustation or a la carte menus whilst the lights...
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Bereketzade Mah, Büyükhendek Cad No:5, 34420 Kuledibi/Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Turkey, one of the few countries in the world to be self-sustainable in food production, grows more than 600 grape varieties and is an emerging leader in producing good quality wines. It's no wonder that wine bars specializing in Turkish wines are...
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Cankurtaran Mh., Akbıyık Cd. No:26, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
In the early 1990s, a Greek family refurbished a charming Ottoman home and opened Albura on the cobbled streets of Akbıyık Caddesi. The quality had locals and travelers flocking, making Albura one of the most popular restaurants in Sultanahmet. In...
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Nejat Eczacıbaşı Binası, Evliya Çelebi Mahallesi, Sadi Konuralp Caddesi No: 5 Şişhane, 34433 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Istanbul's premier music promoters have another trick up their sleeve: a top-floor wine-and-dine hangout overlooking the Golden Horn. The Istanbul Foundation for Arts and Cultures (IKSV) serves a mix of rock, jazz, super-trendy cocktails and...
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Cihangir Mahallesi, Soğancı Sk. No:7, 34427 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
5.Kat (Floor 5), in Istanbul’s upscale Cihangir neighborhood, boasts a menu of gourmet cuisine and magnificent views of the Bosphorus in an elegant setting. The prices are a little more than what you pay elsewhere, but then there’s not...
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Cankurtaran Mah, Tevkifhane Sk. No:8, 34400 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
One of the things I adore about Istanbul is the ongoing discovery of hidden gems around the city. Not real gems, but rather, venues with spectacular features—a secret garden or a rooftop cafe with a gobsmacking, drop-dead-gorgeous view. These gems...
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Eyüp Merkez Mahallesi, 34050 Eyüp/Istanbul, Turkey
Gentlemen, if your lady appreciates the simple things in life and you both romantically revel in truly unique, off-the-beaten-path experiences, then you should head to Eyüp hill for the panoramic view from Pierre Loti Café. Then, instead of...
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Süleymaniye Mahallesi, Mimar Sinan Cd. No:20, 34120 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Most couples will want to experience all of Istanbul’s attractions together, and enjoying a hammam (Turkish bath) is no different. The majority of the authentic bathhouses in the city have separate male and female bathing areas, making it...
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Balat Mahallesi, Mürselpaşa Cd. No:10, 34087 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
My Local Guide Istanbul provides a unique tour of Istanbul's UNESCO World Heritage listed renovated and ruined Ottoman Houses. Walking amongst the locals was an experience in itself, with local kids curious to see us in their colourful community....
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Alemdar Mh., Yerebatan Cd. 1/3, 34410 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
A city as ancient as Istanbul has many layers of history, and you’ll have to go below the surface to see the Basilica Cistern, the largest of the underground cisterns. Built in the sixth century for the Byzantine emperor Justinian, the...
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Beyazıt Mh., Kalpakçılar Cd. No:22, 34126 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Soon after conquering Constantinople and defeating the Byzantines in 1453, Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II commissioned the beginnings of the Grand Bazaar to reinvigorate trade with the city. More than 550 years later, the bazaar is one of the oldest...
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Rüstem Paşa Mahallesi, Erzak Ambarı Sok. No:92, 34116 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Also known as the Spice Bazaar, the Egyptian, is the oldest market in Instanbul. The best bargains to be had are in the alleys just outside of the building where more of the locals shop.
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Kidathineon 41, Athina 105 58, Greece
While sitting outside at a café in Plaka, the historical neighborhood in Athens, a brightly colored wall across the way—filled with bottles—caught my eye. Ouzo was something I wanted to try, as it is for many first-time visitors to Greece, but...
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Athens, Greece
Maybe the most ubiquitous dish in the capital city, but the window on the corner of Monastiraki and Metropoulos is where you go if you want the best souvlaki Athens has to offer.
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Athinas, Athina 105 51, Greece
The noisy, smelly, chaos of Athens Central Market is an experience no foodie (or photographer) should miss. The colours, shapes and patterns are a compositional dream, but the market is not for the squeamish. You can find every conceivable...
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Avramiotou 6-8, Athina 105 51, Greece
In the Plaka, there's an unassuming doorway leading to this underground event space. Six d.o.g.s. Cultural Space hosts events and has a bar, gallery, and outdoor garden area. Since opening a few years ago, it has become a focal point for Athens...
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Athens 117 41, Greece
Climb up here to see the Philopappos Monument, an ancient Greek mausoleum dedicated to Philopappos, and you'll be treated to one of the best views of the Acropolis. This whole area is surrounded by rare green space in Athens, so take some time to...
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Themistokleous 66, Athina 106 81, Greece
Nosotros is a free social space in Exarcheia where the youth come to discuss politics or to participate in seminars on literature, theater, painting, music, dance, and more. You can even take a cooking or photography class. If you're a visitor,...
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Delicious Greek food? Check. Warm and friendly location? Check. Wood stove piping away in the corner? Check! If you're going to binge on mezethes (small plates of traditional food) and then indulge in some tsipouro (pomace brandy), Kafenio is the...
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Ifestou 2, Athina 105 55, Greece
Centered around a flea market, Monastiraki Square is busy with musicians, beggars, street performers, and tourists. Sometimes you'll hear fireworks going off here, for no particular reason. Sometimes there'll be full-on drum circles. The...
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Sultan Ahmet Parkı, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
When the sun finally dips behind the minaret skyline and the moon starts to rise, Sultanahmet Park—between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia—brightens up with a colourful lighting display. In summer enjoy the show by savoring a creamy Turkish ice...
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Cankurtaran Mh., Tevkifhane Sk. No:8, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
My ultimate favourite thing to do to end a perfect day in Istanbul is to scale the heights of Sultanahmet’s buildings to find a rooftop restaurant – known as a terrace restaurant. Some terraces, such as the Seven Hills Restaurant on Tevfikhane...
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Tomtom Mahallesi, İstiklal Cd. No:8 D:163, 34433 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
This elite rooftop restaurants is a popular place for locals to celebrate birthdays, milestones, and romantic moments. Called 360 for its magnificent 360-degree view of Istanbul, it's a great place to celebrate just being in Istanbul! Relax with a...
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Divan Yolu Cd., Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Travel from Europe to Asia for 2.15TL? Yes you can—with an Istanbulkart aboard a Bosporus ferry. If you’re planning to use public transportation in Istanbul, then it pays to buy an Istanbulkart. The swipe card provides discounted fares for...
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Istanbul, Turkey
One morning outside Sultanahmet I saw what I believe to be a suffi. He looked somewhat like a Turkish version of Santa Claus (which was odd because it was late December), but I don't really know what else he would be with that beard.