The Best Turkish Coffee and Icelandic Jams

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We finally had the chance to get off campus this weekend after a long string of weekend duties.  We were chatting in the teacher’s lounge last week with some of our co-workers (who are from Istanbul) and they gave some great tips on things to do in the city that are off the beaten path.

The whole conversation got started when they noticed my husband and I sipping on Turkish coffees after eating lunch.  They were surprised when we told them we liked it.  They then went on to recommend a cafe that still makes their coffee the old way, over a fire.  It’s a hidden gem in the city, not far from Sultanahmet and certainly not frequented by yabancis such as ourselves.  It’s the kind of place you go if you want a feel for real Istanbul.  We were immediately sold.

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The area is called Çorlulu Ali Paşa, which is named after the mosque next to it, although this place doesn’t seem to be associated with the mosque.  At first, it’s hard to find, but once you find the entrance, it’s as if you’ve stepped through a magic portal.  The ceilings are covered with colorful lamps, the floors are scattered with inviting mosaic tables and cushions, and the tantalizing scent of nargile fills the air.  My kind of place.

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I could tell that these were no ordinary Turkish coffees as soon as they arrived.  The color was slightly lighter and the foam on top was thicker and creamier than any I’d ever seen before.  The first sip offered a sweeter, smoother, and nuttier experience than I was used to.  Hands down the best I’ve ever tasted.  Hopefully next time I won’t have a cold so I can enjoy some nargile (hookah) while I’m at it.

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The sea of people on this street will never cease to amaze me.

We left and wandered down Istiklal for a while to kill some time before catching a late night concert we just happened to hear about at the last minute.  Though the title of this post may be a bit deceiving, ‘jams’ in this case is referring to music, not preserved fruit.

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We were lucky enough to see Sin Fang, a cool indie band from Iceland that my husband has been a huge fan of since high school.  The tickets were unbelievably cheap and the venue was nice and intimate…we were right in front of the stage!  If you’re looking for good indie music in Istanbul, look no further than Salon IKSV.  It’s small, near the Galata Tower, and always has the best music.

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I left the concert with my heart full of love for this city that I’m so fortunate to live right next to, which made the news of the explosion in Beşiktaş all the more disheartening. My heart goes out to all of the victims and their families.

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