What to do on a long weekend in Istanbul

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It’s only a week until our next long weekend of the month and I’m hoping my photo diary from three days in Istanbul inspired you to take a trip! These are my must-dos for when you go East…

Also, this was my soundtrack to the trip. Hit play and listen while you read?

 

Eat truck loads of kebabs at Bilice Kebap

kebabs in istanbul

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One of the reasons I love going to visit people in their home cities is the insider foodie spots you find. From the outside, this doesn’t look like anything special, but the food is right on the money. Admittedly, this was the first kebab I’ve ever eaten (I’ve tasted others’ kebabs after stumbling out of Club I and into Bayside before, but even when I was trashed, it grossed me out). This huge platter came out and was regularly topped up until we couldn’t eat anymore. Oh yeah, if you go to Istanbul, bring a freaking massive appetite if you want to keep up with the locals.

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Go for a pre-prandial cocktail and a sing-a-long at Pera Palace

Pera Palace

Pera Palace interior

A historical institution in Istanbul, this is the city’s oldest European hotel. It was originally a stopover for riders of the Orient Express and has retained that grand, romantic, old-worldly vibe. This isn’t least because the piano player got Cam, Donna and me to sing along with him. Cutey.

Pick up some Viagra tea at the Grand Bazaar

Viagra tea

Obviously, I couldn’t leave Istanbul without a present for Dan. On my return, he presented my bed-bound self with homemade stilton, pesto and Wednesleydale toast, eggs he’d picked up from his parent’s farm, a silver spoon with ‘I love you’ engraved on it (I think there was a joke about me being a bit of a silverspoon in there somewhere), in a cute little ceramic egg cup he bought because he thought it was ‘so me’. I got him Viagra tea.

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He says it tastes very nice.

Shake your thing at the Mini Muzikhol

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Donna took me over to her chum’s place and we ended up in this tiny club called Mini Muzikhol. Lazy funk sounds, psychedelic visuals and a whole lotta boobs and vajayjay on the wall, it had a really fun, relaxed vibe. I love that it’s standard for the Mini Muzikhol barstaff to fill a fruit bowl on the bar to ensure we get out five-a-day.

Leave a note at Brew Lab

Brew Lab Istanbul

Brew Lab Istanbul

Brew Lab

Cam took us to her pal’s coffee shop the morning after. The coffee machines are so cute (scroll down for those), I really want a trio in my future dreamhouse. Pretty lights + coffee = no more hangover. Leave a note like we did!

Visit J’adore Chocolatier

If only for the smell, this tiny little chocolate shop is worth a drop-by. It is the cutest little thing, and the Viennese chocolate drops are b-e-a-utiful!

Stroll through the fish market

Fish market Istanbul

Fish market Istanbul

Smelling a little less sweet, the fish market is still a spectacle, particularly at sundown. I got so sidetracked by taking photos I lost my parents, Donna and Cam and my mother thought I’d been napped and sold (sorry madre).

Try Turkish coffee

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When Turks travel, I have it on good authority that it’s not out-of-the-ordinary for them to bring their own coffee beans and machines. Sounds a little crazy to us as let’s face it: there’s not a massive difference between Americano, Latte and Cappuccino. Turkish coffee gives a much thicker, sweeter, richer taste. Our coffee must taste like toilet water to them. Try it (Turkish coffee, not toilet water); I loved it.

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Bring comfortable shoes

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I have an entire drawer full of God-awful flats that I’ve picked up on European city breaks after only packing heels. Such are the tribulations of a shorty. I’d like to say this is the last pair, but experience might argue otherwise. Don’t make the same mistake I did, lest you need to bail on a trip to the Asian side to rest your weary trotters 🙁

Be early for everything

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My cheeky pal has a laissez-faire attitude to life (even more so than yours truly, quelle horreur), which has only been emphasised by becoming a temporary Turk. That little birdy told me everyone in Turkey is late because it’s impossibly rude to turn down an offer to socialise with someone, whereas us uptight Brits would never dream of making someone an offer they felt obliged to accept. When meeting a local for breakfast, it’s apparently not out-of-the-ordinary for them to turn up hours late. Make sure you’re early early early for everything, don’t over-schedule if you’re only there for a few days and Turkey will suit you down to the ground.

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