Istanbul is a wonderfully diverse city where all things are possible. The places to visit can appear limitless but it is exactly because of its attractions that it can be a ‘trifle’ busy at times. Living and working in a city brings many benefits but also some challenges. Having a home in Istanbul sometimes you would just like to go to get away from the crowds, – not only of tourists but other Istanbulites. Where? Is the question. Well here are two for you to consider:-
Çorlulu Ali Pasha Medresesi
Now this is not as secret per se but is a very popular Turkish meeting point in the heart of a busy tourist area, the Grand Bazaar! This place offers the best traditional Turkish coffee, çay and great nargile, (a hookah pipe or shisha). Try the rose and mint nargile for a sublime taste combination. You can feel the 300-year-old history when you visit, it is relaxing and offers a subliminal message to slow down, relax. Despite the hustle and bustle of the Grand Bazaar, time really does slow down here. Originally a school of religion and used by the Dervishes, the Medrese has had many identities before settling into this one. Be sure to visit this oasis next time you venture to the area.
The bar behind the ‘Fridge
Once this would have been called a ‘speakeasy’ but this hidden tavern is known as ‘Gizli Kalsın’. Literally behind an innocuous soda ‘fridge, you will find an atmospheric bar with live music and other events taking place. There is a strict door policy to go through but well worth a visit. To find it you first should discover the Pizza Emirgan. This Bosphorus waterfront pizzeria is in the Emirgan district (Sakıp Sabancı Caddesi No.14/B). Its distinctive red frontage with tables outside but no signs is easy to spot as you walk down the street from the Emirgan Ferry port. The pizzeria belongs to Le Bloom restaurant and here the specialities are straight-from-the-oven pizzas with some of the most delicious topping you could ever want. If, no, when you visit, try the calzone that is stuffed full of chocolate, superb!