For the past few mornings I’ve been enjoying a leisurely breakfast right by the sea at the Four Seasons Bosphorus in Istanbul.
Having been to Istanbul many times, I am doing very little tourist sightseeing on this trip. All I really want to do this time around is to take it easy and to check out the cool new shops, coffee places and restaurants that have sprouted up since I was last here about two years ago.
And to catch up with some friends in Turkey. I’m having dinner with some of them at one of my favourite restaurants in Istanbul tonight.
WHAT TO DO IN ISTANBUL
I just love being in Istanbul. Sometimes I come over, all the way from Asia, just for a weekend of walks, sitting by the Bosphorus and a couple of good meals. The weather is perfect and everywhere is a feast for the senses. It’s a great way to rejuvenate and revitalise one’s self.
This time too, I really intended for a very relaxed pace of a trip with enough time to catch up on emails and to actually read the newspapers over breakfast. Of course, I am trying to fit in as many spa treatments as possible.
THE RESTAURANTS UNDER GALATA BRIDGE
I’m doing a bit of the tourist stuff that I like as well. The other day my friends and I had lunch under Galata Bridge. This is a big tourist activity, and almost all the fish restaurants here cater to foreigners.
However, I just love sitting right by the sea under the bridge and watching the boats go by. You see all of this amidst the gorgeous views of the oldest neighbourhoods of Istanbul. This is such a unique experience — something you won’t find even from the top luxury hotels.
They have a really interesting selection of food for breakfast at the Aqua Restaurant. This includes Turkish bean soup and all kinds of fish done in a variety of ways.
The fish dishes at breakfast are really delicious. In fact, I haven’t seen such a comprehensive array of fish dishes at breakfast at other luxury hotels in Istanbul.
Two fish dishes stand out at the Four Seasons Bosphorus. One is a shredded salmon dish which is delicious beyond words. The other is marinated freshly-caught anchovies that is always so prettily arranged; it looks like a modern artwork.
I usually eat these with a big plate of buttered Turkish fried rice that the chef kindly makes for me when it wasn’t available in the buffet spread.
TRADITIONAL TURKISH PANCAKES
Then there’s the freshly made traditional Turkish pancakes that are made to order right on the terrace. This is perhaps the highlight of breakfast. It’s a joy to watch the Turkish ladies make this pancake. And the pancakes themselves are incredibly delicious. Sometimes the pancakes are filled with cheese, and sometimes meat is added into the pancake.
Of course, I always end breakfast with a plate of traditional Turkish sweets.
VISITING ISTANBUL’S TOP MUSEUMS
Speaking of art, that’s the other thing on my agenda. One of my favourite museums in Istanbul is of course the Istanbul Modern, so that’s where I’m headed today.
And then I’m checking out an away-from-the-tourist-track neighbourhood full of cool new designer shops and chic boutiques with one-of-a-kind items for sale. My kind of favourite places.