It’s wonderful

…to be back in Istanbul!

I’m returned to this gorgeous city in the hopes of improving my Turkish. So far I’ve successfully manipulated various unfortunate waiters into having extended conversations, enjoyed more delicious mezes than I can shake a kebab at, and caught breathtaking glimpses of the Bosphorus from unexpected angles while winding through the narrow streets of Cihangir… It promises to be a terrific three weeks.

For those who are also looking to study Turkish in the fair city of Istanbul, I’m currently studying at Dilmer and really enjoying it (~700 lira for an intensive month-long course). I was given a placement test upon my first walk-in and then promptly placed into the appropriate level within the hour. My classmates are a really friendly and diverse bunch, our teacher is very affable and erudite about the nuts and bolts of the language, and we’re lucky enough to have an incredible 9th-floor sea view as well. All in all, it’s been a very pleasant experience. The campus is a ten minute walk from Taksim, so it’s in a quiet area, yet convenient to get to. The more famous Tömer (nestled in the heart of Taksim), on the other hand, came across to me as having an alarmingly dark and somewhat sullen bureaucratic atmosphere. I was only there for a few minutes to make an inquiry, though, so it could simply be an unfortunate first impression. Turkuaz —just one street away from Dilmer, tucked away on a similarly peaceful, sloping residential street— seemed like a great choice as well, but unfortunately they weren’t able to offer more advanced Turkish classes due to low enrolment. As a relatively newer school, they tend to have fewer students and thus fewer levels available. That said, the school is charming and definitely worth having a look at, especially if you’re seeking a beginners’ course. They also offer the best price of these three schools at the time of posting, ~600 lira for an intensive course.

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Urban Café, just off Taksim’s İstiklal Caddesi, has an awesome graffiti panorama as its backdrop, of which this is just a snippet. (Good food, too!)

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^ The remarkable Ministry of Commerce building in Karaköy

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^ A satisfying spread at Tavanarası in the Asmalı Mescit area of Taksim

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The famous rainbow steps of Cihangir:

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ficcin ^ Homestyle cooking at one of the many Fıccın branches in Taksim is always a treat.

As someone who used to consume little to no yoghurt, its central role in Turkish cuisine has been a wonderful eye-opener (taste bud awakener?). Grilled and stuffed red peppers with heapings of it? Mmm.

hayatkofte ^ The köfte at Hayat was really, really good — flavourful and tender.

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Shopping at Namlı is always fun — where else do you find a food seller that has red chandeliers as its signature décor?:

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olives2^ The Turks do love their olives! In case you couldn’t tell…

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uiuikj2^ Graffiti fascinates me because it’s so ‘open’ — situated in public spaces, pointedly sprayed for all passersby to see — yet at the same time often very enigmatic unless you understand its particular context, or you might even need to be familiar with a specific graffiti artist’s work. This is one of the many instances of these ‘public secrets’ on the walls of Cihangir that I found myself scratching my head at, yet visually compelled by.

Bye for now!

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