Photo Diary | Istanbul Part II

Let's talk about Turkish breakfast.  Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day so I was pretty excited to try Turkish breakfast after seeing this and hearing reviews from friends.  It lived up to each expectation and was absolutely amazing.   The Turkish word for breakfast is "kahvalti" which roughly translates to "before coffee".  As you probably could have guessed, it is tradition to have tea with your breakfast and coffee is enjoyed afterwards.  The best part to me though was the process, it's a meal meant to be enjoyed leisurely over time (as are most of their meals). Along with our tea we enjoyed various cheeses, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, honey, kaymak (which is similar to clotted cream), fresh homemade jams, fresh butter, a turkish omelet called "menemen" and bread. It was delicious, the concepts were so familiar but the flavors were so different.  Definitely something I plan to recreate here at home.  

tea with our breakfast
a good view of the entire spread

MK and JD in Asia | afternoon tea on the tiny stools
poufy bread!
the cutest coffee shops in Galata
We stayed in Karakoy and really enjoyed the area.  It's more residential and less touristy than the old city with all the sites but still close to the popular Istikal street and Galata tower.  Both areas have lots of nightlife and restaurants and are walkable from here.  Like I mentioned before our apartment had a private rooftop terrace so we came in after sightseeing each day had cocktails and snacks on the roof before heading out to dinner.  It was a nice way to unwind and relax some while still enjoying the views of the Bosphorus straight!  Sitting up there with a cocktail overlooking the mosques listening to the call to prayer - such a good memory.

restaurants and tea spots in Karakoy
view from our rooftop terrace
Andy and me enjoying the view
rooftop cocktails and snacks | fresh pomegranate juice

We enjoyed a really nice meal at Meze by Lemon Tree one evening. It was just as the Turkish intended, a long leisure meal sharing wine and mezes including sea bass ceviche, salmon stuffed peppers, hummus and pastrami, and eggplants roasted with tomatoes and cheese. For our entree we tried the highly reviewed sea bass and Turkish meatballs.  Sea bass was wonderful and was served with amazing coconut potatoes, also something I'd like to recreate at home. And for dessert we ordered the bananas topped with clotted cream, almonds, honey and chili sauce.  It was so unique, loved the chilis on it! And because they could tell how much I love sweets they gave us a hazelnut pudding as well, yum!

Turkish Baklava | Andy and me in Asia
cutest little spots everywhere  - they really take advantage of of their streets
Topkapi Palace
entrance to first courtyard | MK and JD in the courtyard

Fatih did an amazing job of filling us in on Turkish history and how the changes in rulers and religion in turn affected the city. We started one morning at the absolutely breathtaking Topkapi Palace. Walking into the massive gates of the palace to the first courtyard we learned about the tiering of the grounds around the palace built as protection for the Sultan. Each courtyard more intricate than the prior the closer you get to the Sultan’s home. The setting at the top of the hill in Sultanahmet (old city) overlooking the Sea of Marmara from the Sultan’s porch - it’s completely out of this world.  We were in awe of the elaborate details of the ceramic tiles that fill each room creating the most colorful and beautiful rooms I’ve ever seen.

always snappin' pics :)
the most amazing marble columns

Sultan's meeting rooms

MK and JD at Topkapi Palace

intricate details of the ceiling

gorgeous ceramic tiles - pictures just don't do it justice

view of the Sea of Marmara from the Sultan's balcony
the bottom right and left tiles are one piece in the photo on the right, one solid gorgeous piece of ceramic tile

entrance to Grand Bazaar | Post office
While we knew we had to go the Grand Bazaar, we were hesitant because we’d heard not so great things, but it just honestly seemed like a very crowded mall.  For some reason I pictured more open stalls type of market, but it was definitely a giant (like 3,000+ stores) Turkish mall. While overwhelming at times, we enjoyed the Bazaar and both ended up buying rugs in one of the carpet stores.
rug shopping | Turkish coffee
the prettiest rug store in the bazaar

If I had all the money in the world I’d fly my little buns back over there for the rugs and textiles alone. Every shop we entered we were offered tea or coffee and we’d sit down in the rug covered walls while they brought out rug after rug; it was a really cool experience. We went to a handful of rug and textile shops outside the bazaar as well. They were definitely larger (most Bazaar shops are tiny!) and some much nicer but each and every one had such gorgeous textiles! I could have come home with probably 5 rugs and a load of fabrics to turn into pillows and tablecloths if I didn’t watch myself.

MK and me surrounded by gorgeous rugs
more rugs | Andy trying to avoid buying a rug
Spice market - spices and teas
The Spice Bazaar on the other hand was a letdown of sorts. It was really cool and I’m glad we went because we brought home spices to incorporate into some Turkish dishes. But overall it was SO crowded and every stall had pretty much the same items. I was imagining more of a sumac specialty stall, a saffron stall, a paprika stall - you get the gist. It was great, though, to smell the teas and spices and try lots of different Turkish delights.

Sultan Ahmed or Blue Mosque

interior of Blue Mosque | the wudu/ablution area, where Muslims wash their hands, forearm, face and feet before they pray

the main dome and a few of the eight others
We ended our day with Fatih at the Blue Mosque. This is an active mosque, so we of course covered our shoulders and heads before entering and were able to get a much more authentic understanding of a true mosque with the separation of men and women praying and carpeted floors. It was an  interesting experience. The interior itself was gorgeous and bright with the blue tiled walls but the history just wasn't as interesting as it was with Aya Sofya. From pictures I thought this mosque would be my favorite, but Aya Sofya definitely won my heart!

We learned SO much from Fatih in our one day with him, honestly he was amazing.  I learned more than I know about most other countries even those I've visited for longer periods of time.  I'm hooked on guides now!  It makes a city so much more influential to learn that much about the history, culture and people.

We loved Istanbul you guys! I'm always so sad when trips come to an end but honestly leaving Istanbul made me so excited for more trips to come. We only spent four days there, we were testing Brooklyn Limestone's short trip theory, and it worked out so well.  I can see more trips in our future so that is definitely not something to be sad about.

- Heath

PS I LOVE planning trips so if anyone has any specific questions feel free to ask!

PPS Part I here 


  1. All of the food looks delicious - those cups of tea with breakfast look HUGE!! Can't wait to see the rugs you ladies decided on. Looks like a lovely trip - glad y'all enjoyed!

    1. Funny, I don't remember the tea cups being that big but I'm curious now. We need to catch up and i'll send you pics of my rug, of course it's a struggle to find a home for it in our tiny rental! You'll see MK's soon in her Kitchen reveal, stay tuned!

  2. Forgot to say - love that pic of Andy trying to avoid buying a rug. I can picture Colin doing the exact same thing :)

    1. He was hesitant but eventually got on board and loves all our little souvenirs now! Love bringing home bits and pieces from trips.

  3. I love this post too!!