Istanbul – here I am!!!
My trip over from London on Thursday went very smoothly. Everything on time, the check-in no problem, arrival, pick-up all fine, even the Istanbul rush hour was kind to me. 23 degrees in Istanbul, the most beautiful sunset over the Golden Horn and the Galata Tower was shining, when we drove into the city. The Bosphorus presented itself in the most seductive blue with light waves – OMG, could I believe it? No, I couldn’t and I still find it hard to believe that this is now going to be my new home and reality.
At 6pm I arrived in my new home, my Ottoman palace, as I call it from now on … Not quite a palace but so much more specious than my place in London for the last six years…
My first evening I spent with friends and we went out to have dinner at a restaurant called Midpoint (http://www.midpoint.com.tr/eng/index.html) on Istiklal Caddesi. It is quite an extraordinary place – just imagine you step into a restaurant on Oxford Street and you can sit on the terrace and overlook the Bosphorus. Yes, that’s what you can do when you go to Midpoint. And in addition to this splendour, you will get very good food of all kinds. The young and beautiful go there for drinks and to be seen in the early evening. So there is always something to enjoy when one is there. And it is now only 10 min away from where I live. Just too amazing!
Friday was my first proper day in Istanbul and I had a long lie-in. I felt like having finally reached the finishing line, quite tired and exhausted. So, I got up at my leisure and started to unpack and made myself at home, at my new home! But it feels all strangely familiar, as if it is the most normal thing for me to now live here in Istanbul. Beautiful and slightly disturbing at the same time. I started to explore my neighbourhood in terms of all the necessities one needs – supermarket, post, office to pay your electricity bills etc …
And I cannot stop marvelling at my new apartment. I was running up and down my corridor (something of that concept did simply not exist in my place in London), I put on my Turkish music and travelled in my mind back to the days when Istanbul was not just three hours away on a plane but days on a train or a boat. What must that have felt like to arrive in this magical city then?
Last night I met up with another friend of mine and we did a little Beyoğlu tour. We started at a place called 8 Istanbul (http://www.8istanbul.com/8.html). Their food is some kind of Asian fusion. In the summer they have an amazing terrace and they offer suites for quite reasonable prices all year as well (http://www.misafirsuites.com/). The restaurant is not that great, however I can’t wait for spring to start and to check out their terrace and cocktails. By the way, I had my first freshly squeezed pomegranate juice last night – OMG, how different that tastes to what I had been used to so far…
From there we continued our walk down the side streets of Istiklal and stopped at a local tea place where one sits outside on very simple stools and enjoys the mild night and some Turkish tea. Surrounded by second-hand bookshops, it was such a restful place to stop by. The cherry on the cake was drinks at the bar of the newly reopened Pera Palace Hotel (http://www.perapalace.com/en-EN/homepage/61.aspx). What a treat it was to walk the steps of the most glamorous history of Istanbul in the days when the Orient Express arrived and its passengers stayed at the Pera Palace Hotel, and where Agatha Christie wrote one of her most famous crime novels – yes, that is where we had our drinks overlooking the Golden Horn in all its nightly splendour.
And what can I say, today is already day two and my first Saturday in Istanbul… Bon weekend!!!!
- Stay the night: At last, glamour has returned to the Orient (independent.co.uk)