The Other Side of Istanbul

Lest you think all I did was eat on my trip (though, to be fair, I spent a good deal of time doing just that), there is plenty to do that does not revolve around food. I enjoyed walking on the waterfront, both near the ferries, which provides nice views of Istanbul’s European side, and on the city’s southern coast, in Caddebostan Dalyan Park. There are walking and bike paths, a beach and views of the Prince Islands to the south. Lounging on the grass in Caddebostan is a local pastime: People bring their beers, cigarettes and books and spend the afternoon. Take the opportunity to peek at some of the decrepit old mansions that line the water — huge structures like the Sabiha Hanim Kosku, and the Ragip Pasa Kosku, built in 1906.

Shopping is nearly as pleasurable an endeavor in Istanbul as eating, and the sprawling Kadikoy market is a must-see if you’re around on a Tuesday or Friday. The easiest way to get there is a quick subway ride to Goztepe station. (I bought an Istanbulkart transportation card, which requires a 6-lira deposit, then you pay as you go — in this case, a 2.60-lira fare.) The magnitude of the market hits immediately, but takes a minute to sink in: There’s seemingly endless merchandise, and almost anything you could want.

I passed stalls of pants from 30 lira and shirts from 10 lira, while stepping over boxes of baby chicks and ducks for sale. There are watches, handbags, perfume, toys and scarves. There are cleaned artichokes floating in water, and 20-lira polo shirts. There are pickle varieties to awe any fermentation fan, as well as some comically large loaves of bread, which in turn are just past crisp green plums selling for just 3 lira per kilo. I picked up a couple of cotton towels for 10 lira and a 5-lira bag of Urfa pepper.

Evren Butik is a slightly more manageable shopping environment — a cozy vintage store run by the friendly and affable Algodan Kemaloglu. I bought a jacket and a few teacup saucers, bargaining from 60 lira down to 45. Then, as I was leaving, he talked me into buying an old peppermill-style coffee grinder for 15 lira, which he carefully wrapped in newspaper.

There is also culture to be appreciated: I enjoyed checking out Moda Sahnesi, a performing arts center in the heart of Moda. After downing an eye-opening Turkish coffee (5 lira), I caught a screening of “Mr. Gay Syria,” a documentary about gay Syrian refugees (15 lira, 10 for students). Later, I caught a piano recital up the street at the Süreyya Opera House, a beautiful building constructed in the 1920s (15 lira). The nearby Thales Cafe, a restaurant and bar set in and around a beautiful old mansion, proved a perfect place for grabbing a local Bomonti beer (16 lira) and people-watching in the garden.

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