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Two Continents, One City Along The Bosphorus.

They say opposites attract and in Istanbul, that statement couldn’t be more accurate. Being split down the middle and resting on two continents is bound to diversify your city limits. On the European side, brooding artists take to the streets to literally paint the town, while on the Asian side, families live peacefully in communities that adopt the mantra, “it takes a village.” While out and about, we were joined by Ümit and Erk who took us on a short trip just across the Bosphorus and explained what it was like to grow up in a multi-faceted city that blends old churches with new schools of thought. 

On the Manhatten-esque side of town, mosques sit alongside provocative street murals as a jeans and t-shirt crowd observes the call to prayer. Trolley cars and trendy shops level the playing field for those out to score a good time. Back on the Brooklyn side, the easy calm of freshly mowed grass ruffling in the breeze accents humble homes. Each cityscape peers across the conjoining thread of the Bosphorus and puts visitors in a truly unique position to step inside two worlds.

Ümit and Erk are spreading the word that buried underneath the rubble of sensationalized headlines awaits a vibrant culture. Their company, Locally Istanbul, gives visitors a true taste of the city by looking beyond what is portrayed in the media. These guys aren’t in a rush to convince anyone, however, because they know Istanbul will keep thriving as it has for centuries. People are the lifeblood of this city, and in the meantime, Istanbul’s heart will continue to beat for them.

If you want to step outside of the touristy areas of Istanbul and see how the Turkish live after the timecard has been punched then here is where it starts. There are two main ferry ports that we took from the European side to the Asian side and back. Karakoy and Eminonu. The cost for these public motors are around 4 Turkish Lira and while you could charter a private boat, they offer a chance to move between continents as the locals do on a daily basis.

How to get there: Eminonu is located right next door to the spice market; it departs to numerous ports every 15-20 minutes. Karakoy is in the district by the same name and will roughly follow the same pattern. The total trip time is about 30 minutes if you’re just looking to hitch a ride but for more scenic fare they both offer guided tours down the Bosphorus.

Speaking with the residents of a community is the best way to get a feel for what truly lies beneath the beckoning lights of any city. After you’ve taken your afternoon tea visit the food market in Kadikoy. There you’ll find everything from Turkish delights to tapas and Raki. The price ranges from $10-$20 USD for places that are non-alcoholic while taverns tend to be between $30-$40 USD. Route tips to food market – This is an entire neighborhood specializing in restaurants and food stalls between Neset Omer Sk. and Moda Cd. You can literally spend days here trying new cuisine and variations of favorites you’ve collected along the way!
Asmalimescit is one of the up and coming neighborhoods on the European side of Istanbul. It’s the perfect place to witness the rise of youth culture in its infant stage.
TS Pick – The Bar with No Name. All signs of a good time point to the bar without one. Find great cocktails with really fresh ingredients such as basil and sage in the drinks. There are even bowls of bing cherries put out as bar snacks!

Address – İstiklal, Gönül Sok. No: 7/B, Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey

We love Turkish food, but sometimes you need to mix it up. We spun the Food Roulette wheel and found Picante, a great Mexican spot in the heart of Asmalimescit. The service is fast and friendly, the food is delicious and the owner is usually present to make sure everything is up to your tastes.
TS Pick: Being that plenty of us call Miami and California home, we know what authentic Latin food is supposed to taste like. That being said, go for the burritos. Veggie, bean, and cheese or the special, doesn’t matter because you will not be disappointed.

Address:  Asmalımescit Mahallesi, General Yazgan Sokak No:8/B, 34200 İstanbul, Turkey