CONTRIBUTED BY JESSICA MARIE
Beşiktaş is an awesome town in Istanbul. My boyfriend and I would not have known to go and visit it if it were not for our Turkish friend taking the time to show us around. It is extremely different from the Old Town area and most of the touristy spots. If you want to take some time to experience the Istanbul that the locals experience, then this could definitely be the place for you!
We all grabbed some lunch at a place called Dürümce, which is located fairly close to the coast. We had the ocean in view from out table, anyway. You can google map “Dürümce, Beşiktaş” to see exactly where it is. This place was crazy. About five stories high… and about five times bigger than all the large restaurants you’ve ever seen. Since it was a nice night, we opted for a table outside on the balcony. Admittedly, it was a little hard to get the waiter’s attention. I don’t think this comes as a surprise considering how huge this place is. Luckily we had our Turkish friend with us, so he did all the hand clicking. I can’t go past ordering Adana… so that’s exactly what I did. If you’re a little sensitive to the heat, don’t forget to ask for the one without the spice! The stuff that looks like rice is actually not rice, but bulgur. It’s delicious. Actually, everything on the plate was. Minus the chilies. I palmed those off.
Any restaurant that gives free food is, in my opinion, a winner. When they put out five small bowls filled with snacks… it was basically Christmas coming early. (I don’t know if I should tell you that they give you free refills if you ask. Don’t stuff yourself on these plates. Your main meal isn’t small!). If you’re in Turkey, you should probably try to order things that you haven’t had before. That’s exactly what my boyfriend did. He picked out a strange drink from the menu called “Şalgam”. After doing a quick google and finding out that Şalgam means turnip, I was immediately turned off. Regardless, I gave it a try! My initial thoughts were correct and I did not like it at all. But when in Rome… er, Istanbul… right? Further research has now taught me that this drink is not actually made out of turnip, but red carrot pickles. Hmm… nope, still doesn’t sound appealing!
After eating way too much, and spending minimum lira (the main dishes were less than 15TL), we decided it was time for dessert. Another “must try” on my list was “künefe”. A cheese pastry soaked in sweet sugar-based syrup. Cheese. Sweet. Two of my favourite things. As if not give that a go?! Lucky for me, our Turkish friend knew of a good künefe place nearby, so we took a short stroll to a place called “Künefis”. You can also google map this – “Künefis Beşiktaş”. This cafe was small and trendy, and a perfect wind-down for our busy, first day in Istanbul. We ate another künefe near the spice market, but liked the one at Künefis much more. Don’t forget to wash it down with some çay (tea)!
The streets around the Künefis cafe are lovely to walk around. There are many different kinds of shops to look at, including a few small market areas that sell fresh seafood. I enjoyed walking around here because no one bothered us. No one pestered us to buy things, they were just happily going on with their own business and leaving us be, which was great – because you can take in your surroundings on a much deeper level when you’re left to enjoy it in peace.