I had one of my best airplane descents ever when I sat on the left window for my flight from Berlin to Istanbul. No photos; I wanted to savor it nonstop. We came due south from the Black Sea over the European side, right over Taksim with a long view of the Bosphorus and the Asian coastline, and then a right turn just before the Galata Bridge and the Golden Horn, giving me a view of Topkapi, Aya Sofia, Blue Mosque, New Mosque—gotta love that the “new” mosque is 400 years old—and Suleymaniye Mosque, followed by the city walls and Ataturk airport. (Very quick travel tip: most cheap flights go to Istanbul’s other airport, Sabiha Gokcen, so don’t lazily do a search on IST, Ataturk’s airport code, but also check SAW, even though distant SAW feels halfway to Armenia.)
I made a beeline to Ciya Sofrasi, a restaurant I had read about it in this well-written article in the New Yorker magazine. (The New Yorker could have a 10,000 word feature on a public toilet in Uzbekistan and I would be speed-dialing the embassy to get a visa. If you want another great read, check this story out.) Ciya is on the Asian side of Istanbul, not a long walk from the Kadikoy ferry terminal, meaning that there is no logistical excuse to avoid it wherever you lodge in Istanbul. After I’ve had a long day of harvesting kidneys in the Hotel Kent’s bathtub, I’m looking forward to Ciya’s creamy hummus and flatbread.
The three dishes in the photos below cost about $15, if I remember correctly, about the same as a decent restaurant in the Sultanahmet area where all the tourist attractions are, so take the 2 lira ($1.10), 20 minute intercontinental ferry and make an evening out of it. That ferry ride is one of the world’s best. It acts like a bookend to the Hong Kong Star Ferry on the other side of Asia.