Tag Archives: Local

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Today is Youth and Sports Day, but the holiday was established to commemorate the beginning of the Turkish War of Independence. On May 19, 1919, Atatürk arrived in Samsun to rally his troops to challenge the Allied powers, and their efforts to carve what remained of the Ottoman Empire between themselves.

This day is also widely recognized as Atatürk’s birthday. While his exact birthday is unknown, he famously declared that he deeply resonated with the spirit of May 19th and felt this day could be his birthday. Thus, May 19th has great cultural and historical significance, as well as contemporary relevance. On this day, Turkey comes together to remember the achievements of their great leader, and celebrate the athletic accomplishments of the next generation of Turks.

May 19th: Youth and Sports Day

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Saturday Night at Molly’s Cafe

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It was a cold and grey Saturday, with a few random bursts of snow. We spent most of the day recuperating from the excitement of the previous night, but craved a way to conclude a wonderful day and a crazy week. We headed to Molly’s Cafe, near Galata Tower and found exactly what we were looking for.

When you enter Molly’s Cafe you immediately feel at home. The first thing you see is an open kitchen full of activity. Chatter fills the room in a variety of different languages. Paintings of local artists and familiar scenery cover the walls, and various intimate seating arrangements invite you to make yourself comfortable.

We quickly settled into a couch in the back of the cafe. One of the cats quickly found our laps and settled next to us. We were surrounded by an ecclectic collection of English and Turkish books about every topic and place (I even found an old book about the Pacific Northwest). We skimmed through the collection of books about Istanbul, and chatted about the week. We ordered wine and chocolate cake, and quickly achieved a state of perfect contentment.  Everything on the menu is homemade, and succeeds in every way to make you feel at home, while also providing you with an opportunity to eat what you miss the most from home. We quickly and joyously devoured the cake, as the evenings performers began to play.

The band was named Acqui Cavuri, and consisted of both Italian and Turkish musicians. They played a collection of vibrant Sicilian and Mediterranean folk music. The music filled the space and the entire room came alive with the oud, the guitar, the violin and different types of percussion.

Molly has a wonderful blog that I would suggest to everyone. It is also an excellent way to learn about what’s happening in the cafe, and learn about her observations and experiences as an ex-pat in Istanbul.

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Each time I walk through the covered and bustling streets of a bazaar, I feel like my day-to-day experience in Turkey is put in fast-forward: the streets are abuzz with locals gathering their weekly groceries and determined to find the best deal. The produce appears to be fresher. The scent of fish seems to be more potent. The colors are more vivid. The chatter and bargaining seem more passionate.

I love bazaars. There are delicacies and treasures hidden among cheap shoes, name brand make-up and trendy bags. The olives, fruits and nuts sparkle under the strings of lights, while darkness descends throughout the city. The dirty tarps create a low ceiling, but offer a much welcomed refuge from the rain outside.

The Gultepe Bazaar is a perfect way to start the weekend. I jumped off the bus in front of Kanyon (in Levent) and wandered past the back entrance, and into the lively neighborhood that surrounds the growing metropolis. The bazaar is hidden in the back streets, but easy to find as you wander down the main street. I collected several types of cheeses, a collection of olives, nuts and dried fruits, kitchen supplies and some potted plants for less than 25 lira. They became the heart of our breakfast on Saturday.

The Gultepe Bazaar is held every Friday and spans almost a half of a mile down the narrow back roads of Gultepe. I arrived at 4:45 PM, and found the streets full of people. When my hands were full with special purchases and an eclectic mix of bags and packages, it was time for me to leave. However, crowds of people were still descending into the covered market as I made my exit around 6:15.

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The Gultepe Bazaar

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I was first introduced to this charming cafe by my friend Hayley, who works with me at Aci. The colorful buildings and tree-lined streets are two of the numerous reasons Cihangir remains a haven from the bustling city. Cafes  and boutiques are scattered throughout the streets of Cihangir. Kahve 6, a simple play on words (6 is alti in Turkish, so together it makes the word Kahvalti..the Turkish word for breakfast), is one such special cafe. It is an intimate and vibrant space, with a courtyard hidden in the back. It’s food is fresh and flavorful. It’s crowd is young, hip and internationally diverse. It is always busy and joyous on Sunday mornings when I come with various girlfriends to catch-up and chat…

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Kahve 6: My Latest Breakfast Destination in Cihangir

A Walk Through the Bazaar

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The word for Sunday in Turkish is ‘Pazar’. Thus, the bazaar is a weekly event in most Turkish neighborhoods and towns. People from all over the area come to the local bazaar for produce, fish, nuts, cheeses, clothing, spices and household goods. It is a lively and overwhelming experience to many foreigners, but a part of everyday life for most Turks. The bazaar is where you find the best deals and the freshest produce. A normal back street is transformed into a lively market space. Vendors yell the price of their goods, and attempt to lure you to their stands. Large and small busses change their routes to bring people to and from the bazaar. The streets are covered with plastic tarps, and the products are carefully arranged. You can find almost anything in the neighborhood bazaar: bras, honey, shoes, head scarves, eggs, pickled vegetable, special sauces, socks, cheese graters, cutting boards and more… It is a vibrant experience that excites all of the senses.

Unfortunately, as the number of supermarkets and malls increase throughout the city, the neighborhood bazaars have slowly declined in number. Bazaars no longer occur solely on Sunday. Nor does each neighborhood host a bazaar of its own. In Istanbul, the major bazaars are spread out throughout the week.

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It proved to be quite difficult to find an English schedule for the bazaars throughout the city, so below is my attempt to create one. It is not a comprehensive list, but highlights some of the most popular bazaars, as well as some of my personal favorites…

The Istanbul Bazaar Schedule

Monday: Bahcelievler

Tuesday: Kadikoy

Wednesday: Fatih and Yesilkoy

Thursday: Akatlar and Erenkoy

Friday: Findikzade and Gultepe (Levent)

Saturday: Bakirkoy, Besiktas and Ferikoy (the organic market!)

Sunday: Gulbag (Mecidiekoy), Kosuyolu and Tarlabasi