24 golden hours on the Golden Horn.

  • February 27th, 2012

    VOYAGE TO THE GOLDEN HORN.

    This weekend I had an amazing 24-hours escaping into my favorite neighborhood like a tourist. After dropping off our daughter at her grandmother’s we boarded a vapur for Karaköy. Start any adventure on a vapur and it’s bound to add flavor to the experience.

    FIND YOURSELF A GOOD NIGHTTIME NEST: KARAKÖY ROOMS.

    Next, we checked ourselves into a really elegantly appointed hotel. Sometimes you need to feel like you’re in a movie, not ordinary life. We stayed at Karaköy Rooms, owned by the same team that bring me gastronomic bliss on a regular basis, Karaköy Lonakantasi. I highly recommend renting the studio. It’s a beautiful space with high ceilings and even has a small kitchenette appointed. We were tempted to stay for more than 24 hours. Take a beer or a glass of wine up to the roof and take in the view of the old city and the crisscrossing traffic of ferries and ships.

    PERSEMBE PAZARI: FULL OF CURIOUS FINDS.

    One of my favorite places to explore these days is Persembe Pazari. These backstreets are full of atmosphere and shadowy beauty and the passages and the cracked and crumbling hans you can discover all manner of strange curiosities on display from businesses left over from the days when the Haliç (Golden Horn) was still a working port.

    FIND YOURSELF A SUNLIT PERCH ON THE HALIÇ.

    If it’s sunny and warm, relax on the shore and have a tea in the area just after the Karaköy fish market. If you’re a fan of great architecture, walk on from Persembe Pazari until the next bridge where you can visit one of Mimar Sinan’s famous mosques, situated just before the Haliç Tersanesi (Boat Yard). It’s definitely worth a look inside, and the late day light is truly amazing.

    INSIDE ONE OF MIMAR SINAN’S MOSQUES.

    THE HALIÇ TERSANESI (BOAT YARD)

    Before heading out for the evening, drop into Salt Galata. Originally built by a French Levantine architect, Alexandre Vallaury for the Ottoman Bank, and now owned by Garanti, it’s been extensively renovated and renewed to serve as a public archive and gallery space. There’s also a high end dining space by the Doors Group called CA’ D’ORO. Personally, I’d stay here for a drink at the sunset hour and enjoy the light and shadow slanting across the Golden Horn, but I’m not sure after tasting the food on two separate occasions that I’d stay for supper, as they don’t seem to have mastered their menu yet.

    For supper I’d check out Maya. Just remember to book at least a week in advance (I always leave it too late). If not, go to my personal favorite, Karaköy Lokantasi. For drinks afterward, head to Klup Kulah (directions here) or go back and enjoy the privacy of your suite. What happens next, is not for public consumption.

    BRUNCH AT BEJ: OVEREATING HERE IS A SERIOUS, BUT ENJOYABLE RISK.

    So let’s move to the next morning … after a late rise, I’d suggest a long, leisurely brunch at Bej Kahve. They brew a good cup of coffee and the yumurtali pide (kind of like a fried-egg-topped pizza) is delicious. So is the cevizli-bal-kaymak (walnut-honey-clotted) combination. Enjoy the warm morning light, a green tea or two to detox your liver from the previous night’s excesses, then a magazine or two and some mellow conversation before you head back to reality.

    Do you ever escape into your own city? What’s your perfect 24-hour excursion?

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