(not to be) Missed Turkey & Istanbul Sites and Facts

summer 2009 / more feed with intelligence to refine your tours

Best baklava in Istanbul ( also the shobiyet )


If Baklava is not consumed on the day of production; everyday it gets soggy a 5 – 10%  ; and yet some of them  already come soggy. When you bite the fine baklava it talks to you; you should hear the breaking of the layers.
I prefer the baklava of two places in Istanbul; Hamdi Restaurant next to Spice Market has got its own seperate daily baklava manufactury and if I show up by 12.30 – 1 pm that ensures I get the right stuff. Though I like Sobiyet (: shobiyet ) better , this one has hot a thin daily milk cream ( kaymak)  layer in it, you can’t tell.
I came across with one visitor, among many who admired it highly, saying “I want to cry now.”
The other one is at least as good;  Canak (Chanak ) Restaurant in Acibadem district of Asiatic ıstanbul, accessible from kadikoy by public transport. Exact same feelings here ; and plus, katmer, a version of baklava with less layering, served warm , made to order is available.
I would avoid a place if baklava is not sold out by late afternoon , evening; or else they will sell it the following day. since this is not an every day – week desert for me, I only always eat it in these two places and occasionally at Gulluoglu of Karakoy. Gulluoglu feels like a larger scale production and still almost as good.  
I have tried other places enogh times to realise on and off they sell baklava left over from the previous day; and I know  in the first two places baklava usually  finishes and not available in the late afternoon. Try  baklava  with walnut for a change, although mainstream taste is one with pistachio in it.

Hamdi is also my favorite for  ( lamb and beef) kebab with pistachio, and infidel mountain salad. You are not entitled to talk about these bites without trying these places.

add on : My mother is from Gaziantep, and I spent proper time in Gaziantep to communicate on baklava 🙂
Oguz Kosebalaban

August 15, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Off the beaten Path Private tours in Istanbul

Hi! My name is Oguz Kosebalaban.  Tour guide and travel writer.  As of August 2013 this blog welcomed over 20000 visitors:  I  mainly provide  first hand travel advise from my tour experiences   working lately mainly in Istanbul, Cappadocia and Ephesus.

A quick note on the private tours I offer :    Before browsing  my travel articles below are some sample from my specially tailored tours I offer affiliated with certified Tursab member travel agencies.    These tours cover the need  mainly  for tours covering  less touristy sites  exploring rare but worthwhile sites of Istanbul. Also added are some of the tours for Istanbul and Ephesus highlights with a more attentive plan.   You may Click on the images, or skip to the following articles.  At the end of the page is the “previous entries” link to read my previous articles.

Breakfast in Europe - Lunch in Asia Ottoman and Byzantine highlights Ephesus
You may click on this following link in blue letters , which  is a pdf Istanbul tour file : It introduces one of my rare Istanbul walking tours which can be combined with my popular Istanbul lay over program:

freidmans – bohemian istanbul

August 15, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Deaf servants of the Turkish Parliament and the Ottoman Empire

Oct 4 , 2012   The Ottoman Tradition or protocol to keep state matters secret continues in   the  modern Turkish Parliament, TBMM :

During the meetings at Arz Odasi,  reception hall of the sultan in Topkapi Palace, which is used mainly from 15th through 19th century , the sultan  also had his  ahraz ( deaf and mute )  servants  to keep the secrets of the sultan.

Likewise the Kavas servants who are entitled to participate the secret meetings of the Turkish Parliament are also deaf and mute. Today, Oct 4 , 2012 ,  during  The Turkish Parliament is holding a secret meeting

October 4, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Acitivities for your kids in Istanbul

Of course kids may also enjoy all the wonderful sites of Istanbul : Palaces, museums, ancient churches , ancient mosques can be introduced to attract their interest level. But there are other exclusively for  kids  attractions  :

For families with kids visiting Istanbul; Irfan Sayar’s brain booster workshops for kids is a great opportunity, at least visiting his store – warehouse is like visiting a museum, fun for adults too ( no adult content =) As a travel professional and a former Turkish parental magazine reporter I highly recommend your not missing this opportunity.

His web page is   http://www.zihnisinir.com/tr/

Samples from workshops for kids can be viewed on youtube :

I personally try to find excuses to end up in his store to enjoy all his wonderful works of art and creativity.

April 28, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

2012 – Ottoman Mehter Band Performance nearby Blue Mosque

2012 Spring – Summer information :   Sultanahmet area Ottoman Mehter band Performance /every Saturday at 3 pm /

Nearby Blue Mosque, in hippodrome area ( possibly the pit used as the concert ground between the hippodrome and the tram station )  the local municipality is beginning the famous Ottoman Military band performance , that comes with incredible Ottoman costumes and instruments as well as great Ottoman Military music , which influenced classical music composers like Beethoven, Chaikowski, or Mozart, as in ” escape from seraglio” , the a la turca style was born from this music.

These open air concerts are just fine; but if you would like a real treat of this music; you should go to the Military Museum in Nisantasi, new town. Daily at 3 pm ( museum is closed on mo and tue ) , the concert begins with a breathtaking  English  language video documentary on the band’s origin going as far as Asia.

April 17, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Statistical info on my blog

As you will find its details below, so far, as of March 2012 my blog welcomed over 10.000 visitors, from all around the world, thank you for your interest!
Oguz Kosebalaban

March 15, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Did Amazons live in Turkey?

Smyrna , the ancient name of the third largest city of Turkey is the name of an Amazon  commandent as mentioned in sources from Ephesus. In the Archaeological museum of  Selcuk ( today’s Ephesus )  of  Turkey there is a relief scene showing Amazons with exposed chests =)  making a definite remark on the gender. Ephesus in history is where the main warship is Artemis , and she is the patron goddess of the amazons who were according to the local clues were leaving in Ephesus.

There are sources  telling  that Amazons later  settled down in Turkish Black Sea coast. So you may wonder whether Amazons are alive in the blood of Turkish women in Black Sea region of Turkey ; this photo is published in Sabah – reliable =)  state owned daily newspaper’s web site ( http://www.sabah.com.tr/multimedya/galeri/yasam/gulmekten-olduren-yorumlar-523238154955?tc=124&page=48&albumId=39216  )

The photo shows these incredible American soldiers in action and a  woman  from Turkish  Black Sea coast. The city named Trabzon as the subtitle is a famous large city along black sea coastal line. ( For the naive reader, let’s mention  that , Turks also have a good sense of humour ) .

March 15, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

At a Short Glance – Mosque visit procedures , finer restaurants etc

* Procedures to visit Blue Mosque

No admission at prayer time , they close the visitor’s door half an hour prior to the prayer, open it up half an hour fllowing  the prayer. So find out the prayer times before you get there.


You may use translate.google.com.tr/   page to translate the link I gave that is in Turkjish. Though the tranalation lacks;  Correction : The morning prayer is begins at dawn , finishes with the Sun (rise ) .

* Summer time  with the crowd of the  cruiseship passengers  morning visits are painful, long cues. Best time to visit would be late late afternoon; most  8 hours  tours end by 5 pm ; and by 4 pm most tours are finished with Blue Mosque.

Go see Suleymaniye Mosque, most tours miss it and it is superior to Blue Mosque.

Go see Sokullu Mosque; it is the most impressive mosque visit for a visitor to Istanbul, in regards to aauthentic mosque visit. The difference between a visit to this mosque and the other larger more famous mosques will be like looking at Spoonmaker’s Diamond of Topkapi Palace behind the glass of the display case as opposed to holding bunch of attractive diamonds to get one, or watching a documentary on tv versus going there and actually seeing it ( this applies less to going to Cairo and seeing the pyramids, with the invasion of tourists on documentaries they look more charming, so is Blue Mosque ( yet still you will enjoy seeing it for yourself ) .

Procedures to visit Sakirin Mosque of Asiatic Istanbul

Unlike the Blue Mosque info above; a visitor can visit    non touristy neighborhood  mosques even during prayer time; provided you are dressed properly; no shorts, headcover for women / though if you do not have it most mosques provide one;  since a number of Turkish woman  visitors also need to borrow one from the mosque, the mosques are used to proved one.

Try to avoid weekends for Sakirin Mosque, it gets too crowded; if you have your own car, during the week there is easy free parking next to the mosque, within the cemetery ground.

Advise : It is better to put the scarf on as soon as you get close to the gate into the courtyard of the mosque especially in conservative districts like Eyup, that is more proper.

Sakirin Mosque is on the grounds of a cemetery, frequently a funeral ceremony takes place ,  the rear courtyard is where it takes place.  There will be a number of sad visitors. Wearing a scarf , accompanied by kids there would be reasons to make a small joke and so a small laughter may take place:

This is the place to be more careful, not a place to make a joke. A small smile is just  fine.


If you do not have a car take the kadikoy or Uskudar  ferry. If you do not intend to visit Kadikoy, prefer Uskudar with a stop at the courtyard of Mihrimah Mosque across the pier.

Dining in Asiatic Istanbul

Sakirin Mosque visit should be combined with a Kadikoy non touristy walking street market;  produce, fish, veggies, fine dining ( Ottoman Fehmi, and undeservingly famous Ciya are here . In Ciya , the no more fresh – had been simmering small pide ( turkish pizza )  varieties are to be avoided, the copy paste –  many similar in cooking style to one another  veggy meals ( we call them pan meals )  are fairly fine, the appetizers are , ehh.  I like  the larger selection and freshness and steam from the meals at Canak of Acibadem district of Kadikoy much much better. Ciya simply fails when they need to microwave heat or reheat the getting cold meals. Visitors need more accurate advise then the fancy commercials dressed as    news cheating them.  Canak makes its own bread , they have a real large capable kitchen. Ciya does not. That makes the initial difference.

Top of the line best Baklava & Sobiyet experience is also at Canak ( that is at Hamdi near Spice Market in European Istanbul )   ; on the contrary to the fame of Gulluoglu of Karakoy which is just fine; the difference is attentiveness to the few trays of Baklava to be consumed on the same day versus tons of trays for large scale marketing.

Develi  Kebab restaurant http://www.develikebap.com/KalamisFotografGalerisi.aspx   at Kalamis Marina is also a fine experience.  They also make and serve fresh out of bread sesami dressed pide or puf  bread like Canak.

March 13, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Few words on the new James Bond movie to be filmed in Turkey, and open invitation to movie makers for incredible Istanbul action movie sequences

( Else than being a member of the Turkish  travel industry,  I am also an independent short movie maker; and a photographer.  In other words I   have an eye for locations. I see these million dollar bueget movies wasting their sources with  Istanbul location advice that is not superior; so I am also making my humble but not inexpensive,  and so , valuable location advices available, especially for movie makers who will use the old town in their movies, so far I have sequence advises for chase scenes never used in a movie before; and yet, these are the words from a person with common sense and some ( short) movie making experience)

I think at times the best suggestion for a great location for an incredible movie sequence is yet to come; in this case for you the  makers of the James Bond movie  :  You do all right with your great Turkish contacts , however the best Istanbul chase seqeunce in the old town Istanbul will not be filmed until the movie makers contact me, may it be this one, or another. ( Personally I prefer realistic action movies like the ones with ………….    ) So my valuable feed could actually be waiting for them. No hurries.

March 12, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Is there a finer Bosphorus cruise in Istanbul?

In case you came across this article with a google search, here is the main address of my blog for quick access to more of my Istanbul content: https://mristanblue.wordpress.com/ One of the best ways to enjoy and experience Istanbul efficiently is going on a Bosphorus Cruise , but, possibly that cruise should not be this one ( the regular packed departure of city lines IDO ) , despite the fact that the fancy guide book you got usually gives you the details of this experience! waiting for you :

There are limited outdoor areas on the regular Bosphorus cruise , so you are stuck indoors with limited view :

bitter or better Bosphorus cruiseIs there a finer istanbul bosphorus cruise experience?

As in the photo above , you will possibly end up in an overcrowded – packed Bosphorus city line boat ( Bogaz Hatlari Vapuru ) departing across from Spice Market ( Egyptian Bazaar ) : The earliest departure being at 10.35 ; and enjoy a mediocre cruise experience, as in the photo below ; or you found this page and you have a bright option! :

Is there a better Bosphorus Cruise?

Yes there is; if quality is not meaning quantity for you, this departure from Ortakoy district in the afternoons is a truly good experience : You have outdeck seats with a nice outdect fresh air, Bosphorus experience : It departs from below the first suspension bridge, the pier is next to Ortakoy ( Buyuk Mecidiye ) Mosque.

better bosphorus cruise

* The photos above are from my visual Istanbul Guide for a better Istanbul experience .

Summer 2010 another option for those looking for a bit longer Bosphorus experience by IDO city lines :

Duration : 2 hours begins from and returns to Eminonu , departs at 2.30 pm

rate 15 lira ( 10$ US approx ) Eminonu is same area with Spice Market ( Egyptian Bazaar )

Bosphorus Cruise Loop

* Article is by Oguz Kosebalaban , professional Istanbul tour guide, with suggestions of finer ways to enjoy Istanbul , stepping up from tourist level tours to true experience with more insight. For more Istanbul notes like this: https://mristanblue.wordpress.com/

May 9, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment