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A Nourishing Dosage of Native Culture

by Zey Ayd 2 years ago in guide

Lost in Today

A Nourishing Dosage of Native Culture

I landed in this magical city in Turkey. Distinct chatter amongst locals, nothing I seem to understand. First stop? Of course, the gorgeous Bosporus bridge that has everyone talking. It's the only bridge in the world that connects two(!) continents: Europe and Asia.

I heard a familiar accent. They’re Americans! “Have you ever seen anything so beautiful,” she said. No. I don’t believe I have. So authentic. So spectacular. So stunning. I was in awe.

I was surrounded by a culture that was so different than mine. It’s a city full of rich history. This city reveals numerous empires that previously controlled. What better way to see all of this than a Bosporus boat tour right on the waterside of the pier? For me? I would prefer to go in the morning, as that’s when you can catch every little detail of the city. Every castle, every house, every person, every piece of culture that must be seen!

Who would grow old in a city so beautiful?

Throughout the journey on the ferry, you’ll appreciate and fall in love with an impressive scenery of the city: many memorials that are entirely observable ONLY by a cruiser. The best part? It’s only 12 TL, making it 3.10 USD!

There are boats that depart from docks other than Ortakoy, such as Kabatas, Eminonu, etc. but I prefer the ones from Ortakoy because this one is usually a lot less crowded. The cruise is only an hour and a half and is consistently being offered, every hour or so.

When you get off the cruise, you’re suddenly so hungry. On the main square in Ortakoy, you’ll notice that Ortakoy is famous for its kumpir and waffles. There are many small kumpir & waffle stands lined up next to each other. It’s highly suggested that you have one, or the other... or both, while you’re there! A kumpir is a baked potato mixed with butter and kashkaval cheese. Then you’re offered an approximation of twenty or so toppings to choose from. You’re free to choose as much or as little as you please. These selections include pickles, tomatoes, corn, carrots, peas, cabbage, ketchup, mayonnaise, etc. Can you believe it’s only 5 TL? Yes, it’s a whole meal (you can definitely be full off of 1 Kumpir per person), which is only 1.29 USD!

When you stride past the square down to the dock, you’ll be taken aback by the number of jewelers, souvenirs, and authentic cafes. This was my favorite. I love jewelry. The prices are very reasonable and they consist of silver jewelry, such as rings, bracelets, and necklaces. There are even some handmade ones from leather. Of course, people usually shop for jewelry from the Grand Bazaar, but I couldn’t help myself. They’re great for gifts! They’re even more economical than in the city center.

There are so many different types of souvenirs to choose from. Clocks, paintings, cups, journals: all painted with the gorgeous scenery of different parts of Istanbul. There are so many locals around that you feel like you fit in. They’re so kind and helpful. I’ve heard of their hospitality before but once you experience it for yourself, it’s definitely one of a kind. They love foreigners! But, they also love to rip us off. So be careful! Haggle(!!) with them! They live for that! If they say something you’re buying is 10 TL, ask them to bring down the price. Believe me, I’ve seen locals doing it all the time.

The atmosphere is unbelievable! It feels like home. It’s so genuine. Take that breath of fresh air and enjoy heaven on earth. If you have a trip to Istanbul soon, be sure to check out Ortakoy!

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Zey Ayd
Zey Ayd
Read next: Camping > Hotels
Zey Ayd

25-year-old graduate student who loves to travel the world, meet new people, and learn new cultures/languages.

See all posts by Zey Ayd