Europe,  Istanbul,  TDM,  Travel Journal,  Turkey

Istanbul (Turkey) #2: Discovery of Şişli, as premises

If you missed the previous episode, here is the link: Istanbul #1: Visit of Saint Sophia

It has been several days that we are in the Sisli district in an Airbnb in Istanbul, but we can’t really appreciate it, not knowing very well the local corners and neighborhood activities. Fortunately, we have a meet-up with other digital nomads like us who rented Airbnb in the area. As everywhere in Istanbul, our neighborhood, very colorful, is made of huge hills: it goes down and it goes up dry

Part 1: Travel Diary
Part 2: Practical Tips

Part 1: Travel Diary

We are stuck between two subway stations, and not much is happening. However, as we get closer to the subway Şişli, there are a lot more stores, more choice and the stores really make you want to go

Cami Serif Vakfi

With other nomads, we meet in the courtyard of the local mosque and we take the opportunity to visit it. It is really impressive, there are a lot of mosques here but they are all very beautiful. This one is rather small inside but every detail is made with care. Note: as in all mosques, non-Muslim women can visit them, but with a scarf on their head

Discovery of Şişli

Along with other digital nomads, we meet Y., who is Turkish and a friend of a nomadic friend crossed in Japan. Y. takes us to see the local corners of the neighborhood, where he has been living for more than 15 years. He really likes the neighborhood of Şişli, which is much more central and business oriented for him. He likes the fact that he is close to a metro, because despite an excellent bus network, the traffic in Istanbul is such that one is very quickly trapped in traffic jams. We ask him where he goes to have a drink with his friends, and he takes us to Bomontiada, a very very nice open space where there are many cafes and restaurants. From time to time, there are concerts (free), it is also a cultural space, with exhibitions, workshops… Drinks are a little bit more expensive here so he recommended us to come with our own drinks and sit on the stairs to listen to the concerts

Then we all go together to the Pehlivan restaurant which sells prepared dishes. The Köfte here (meatballs) is very good here. The owner is originally from Macedonia, and he started by opening a small restaurant like this, and finally opened a 2nd, 3rd… There are 5 in all in the neighborhood. But there will surely not be more because the owner wants to ensure the quality of his restaurants and does not want to franchise it. This chain is a bit more expensive (2-3TL/flat) than others of the same kind, but it is also much brighter, cleaner and more pleasant. Above all, they offer more choices (of grills but also of desserts). We stayed there for hours talking, without being kicked out of the restaurant loool 😀 We paid within 7€ for two people. Turkish tea is served at the end, free of charge

I ask Y. where I can try real apple tea (not the chemical version but the traditional one) and he takes me to Çaykovski (enjoy the pun 😉 çay means tea in Turkish). I also recommend you, the waiters were super happy to see so many tourists disembarking, they welcomed us etc. It is a tea room very appreciated by the locals. Turks drink a lot of tea, and Turkish tea (the homemade Lipton version) is often served for free at the end of the meal in the restaurant. There are a multitude of teas, and the apple tea I’m talking about is actually an infusion of dried apple pieces. You can also be served, at the Grand Bazaar or in the hammams, another appletea, which looks like hot apple juice. It is very good but it is rather chemical (packets of powder diluted in hot water)

The next day, the small group of digital nomads goes to the hammam with Y. on the Asian bank. I invite you to read the many hammam / Turkish bath addresses we have tested here. Y. says that it isn’t every week, but rather once a year. In any case, for them, the hammam is more for washing, rather than relaxing. And with the private bathrooms in each apartment, the Turks don’t see much point in going there anymore. It’s really cool to have been able to discover the real neighborhood life with a local, you suddenly appreciate your neighborhood a lot more

Borsa Restaurants

It is also in this area that you can see many 5 star hotels such as Hilton, Marriott… because there is a congress center not far away. And as if by chance, I spot on google maps the Borsa Restaurants, not far from us. It’s very well rated and it’s only on the spot that you discover that I chose another very expensive restaurant. JB says that I have the radar to locate the expensive restaurants 🙂 This one receives presidents, big bosses etc

But fortunately for us, the Turkish Lira is devalued, so we have twice as much purchasing power as a year ago to afford this magnificent restaurant with a beautiful view of the Asian shore and a menu focused on Turkish and Ottoman specialties. We opt for different hot starters, before totally cracking for their lamb-based dish, of a delicacy ! Finally, we paid only 50€ for two, drinks and tips included, which is very reasonable for a restaurant of this standing (waiters with small care, change of cutlery for each dish…)

To get there, locate Borsa Restaurants on Google Maps. When you see a large balcony with an incredible view of the Bosphorus, go down the stairs, pass the security check and you’ll be there.

Shopping center

Shopping malls are an integral part of Turkish life. We went to the Zorlu Center, a very modern, upmarket shopping mall with a short food court. On the first floor there are some rather high-end restaurants, including a steakhouse that is incredible for its meat 😀 And the basement is filled with small stands of cheap Turkish fast food, which serve lunch to the employees in the surroundings. This mall is a bit far from our Airbnb so we won’t go there everyday, but that’s what the real Istanbul (locals) looks like now. More and more modern architecture, lots of shopping malls

That’s all for today, the continuation of our adventure here

Part 2: Practical Tips


  • Airbnb, around 45€/night for two
  • Pehlivan: restaurant with prepared dishes, we paid 50TL for two, drinks included (about 7€)
  • çaykovski: 12TL apple tea (1,7€)
  • Borsa Restaurants: 70TL the dish approximately (10€), if I am not mistaken, the services will be added to the bill, about 10%.
  • Bomontiada: free concert, drinks in the 7TL, free exhibitions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *