today we forced ourselves out the door earlier than usual, so that we could get tickets for the bosphorus strait cruise. we grabbed breakfast at a small pastry shop called koskeroglu in the artsy karakoy neighborhood on our way to the pier. david got turkish coffee, i got some traditional tea (i love the stuff!), and we split some flaky pastries. the place was full of regulars, grabbing a bite on their way to work, and we loved the homey good-morning atmosphere.
then we crossed galata bridge and picked up our tickets on the eminonu pier. we wanted to ride the boat to the northernmost point so that we could see the mouth of the black sea. we took our seats on the european side of the ship (as recommended in the guidebook), and tried to brace ourselves against the cold sea breezes. david captured lots of nice photos as we cruised north. we saw the dolmabahce palace, the ortakoy mosque, bosphorus bridge, beylerbeyi palace, and the rumeli fortress (built in just 80 days!) while david made friends with a local turkish guy who took it upon himself to explain every landmark in full detail. i finally got too chilly and decided to head to the inside part of the boat, where david met up with me later for disembarking.
we arrived in anadolu kavagi, a picturesque fishing village near the black sea. we’d heard that internationals and locals alike flock to this quaint spot for fresh fish and fried mussels (midye tava). we were not disappointed. after a little wandering, we decided on a place right on the water with a wooden, rustic interior called kavak & doganay. we got some yogurt dipping sauce, but the main attractions were the mussels with tarator sauce (made from bread, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and vinegar) and the fried sea bass. both were buttery, moist bites of heavenly goodness. i may be exaggerating here, but i think it was the best fish i have ever eaten (and it was without a doubt the best mussels i have ever eaten, because i never eat mussels). i couldn’t get over how good it was!
after finishing up our meal, we wandered the town a little longer while waiting for a bus to arrive. we noticed a cheaper fish shack, and decided to try a few skewers of mussels there (might as well, right?). they were also really yummy, but the batter coating was heavier and greasier than our first plate. david got a lentil soup while we watched the crowds wander by, then it was time to get on the bus 15A to head south on the asian side of istanbul.
there were some castles and sites to stop and see on the meandering bus ride south, but for the sake of time we only made one pit-stop: to the infamous kanlica to try their yogurt. their yogurt is famous all around turkey, and is processed in the traditional way – with no additives or preservatives. here, we settled into another waterfront cafe (askrlik kanlica yogurdu) and ordered 2 fresh yogurts – one with honey, and one with powdered sugar. i also got a small glass of apple tea. it was a tasty and unique afternoon treat. the yogurt was surprisingly thick, and very tangy. apparently, it is a blend of cow and sheep milk, and the sweet and sour combination is brilliant. i wish i could find yogurt this yummy in the states.
we hopped one more bus down to uskudar, then a ferry, then another walk along the waterfront, then home. it was a great day, and a fun opportunity to see a completely different side of istanbul.
for dinner, we decided on mekan, a cozy armenian-jewish restaurant in beyoglu, near our apartment. a turkish doctor offered up his advice for us as we sat down, suggesting we get the meze sampler plate so we could try lots of little bites of what the restaurant had to offer, and it was amazing! there were about a dozen small nibbles full of exotic flavors and ingredients; it would be impossible to try to describe it all here. we loved the variety and the freshness, and were glad to have taken his advice. we walked home in the cool dark of night, marveling at how quickly our time in turkey has gone by. only one more full day before we move onto our next destination.