Amazing Turkish Food and Attractions in Istanbul – Istanbul, Turkey, Travel Guide!

– Oh, so then they grill like also, okay. Wow. Wow, that is right off the fire. (vigorous Middle Eastern percussion music) Good morning everyone, it's Mark Wiens with
in Istanbul, Turkey. Woke up very early this morning and it is a bright sunshiny day. The sun is reflecting over the Bosphorus. Today we're gonna do some
sight-seeing and some eating.

It's about 7:00 AM now, we are walking towards the tram station
and we're gonna take the tram to Sultanahmet. (motor rumbles) – [Woman] Yeah. (clicks) – Yeah. – [Computer Voice] Free
pass, ticket sales menu. Please take your card
from return tray below. – We made it to Kabatas Tramway Station and figured out how to buy our tickets. It was pretty easy. And we are going to load
onto the Tramway now. Or this one is already closed? This one is already closed? – Oh, (word in foreign language). Ah, you press the button. Okay, we made it onto the Tramway. (peppy jazz saxophone music) We just got off the train at Sultanahmet, that took about 20 minutes. And this is the area,
this is a neighborhood within the Fatih District of Istanbul. And it's one of the most
famous, most important areas of Istanbul, and some of the
most well-known attractions are located in this area. (bell rings) And our first stop this
morning, we are going to what is called Sultan
Ahmet Camil which is known in English often as the Blue Mosque.

Wow, it is just amazing already,
I can see the Blue Mosque to the right and Hagia Sophia to the left. (peppy Middle Eastern music) The view from the outside is spectacular. And this is one of those
places that I have seen so many photos of that it
almost feels like I've been here before, because I've
seen so many photos of it. But at the same time, when you're here it's completely different,
the magnitude of it and of course the inside
is going to be also completely different than the photos. Oh and stepping into the,
the main courtyard area. I think we came at the
perfect time though, it's almost completely
quiet and just beautiful. (vigorous Middle Eastern music) We arrived a little bit
early, it's still not open to the public yet.

We have about 30 minutes,
but I'm just enjoying this courtyard, it is
absolutely spectacular. I think we're gonna take a
look at the Hippodrome first and then we will come back in
about 30 minutes to go inside. Hello, how are you? You are the Hippodrome Dog. Right outside of the Blue
Mosque is the Hippodrome of Constantinople, and this
is an open square area. Hippodrome means the horse
path and so, this area is also often called the Horse Square.

The obelisk is made from pink granite and with some Egyptian
carvings on the sides of it. And it looks almost new,
it's so like perfectly well-kept, and then on
the base of the obelisk you will see some different carvings. You can see Theodius the Great, as well as some of his family which
are carved into the base. (soft Middle Eastern percussion music) One of the most iconic
sites in all of Istanbul is the Sultan Ahmet Camil,
which is also commonly known as the Blue Mosque,
because of the blue tiles that are inside. It was built by Sultan Ahmet in the years between 1609 and 1616. And there are Byzantine
and Christian influences in the architecture, but it
is an Ottoman-style mosque. And there are five main
domes, six minarets, and then eight smaller domes which support the entire structure. It is just a spectacular sight. It's 8:30 AM, they have just opened, so we are entering right now.

(vigorous Middle Eastern music) And you walk inside and it just opens up into this huge prayer hall area. And within the, on the
ceiling within the domes there are over 20,000
handmade ceramic tiles. Some of them have a kind of
floral and cypress designs. And then, it contrasts the red carpet, which is on the floor. But, this is just an amazing
sight, just giant columns and what I really like is
you can see all of the domes as well, on the inside. There are also dozens
of ancient chandeliers. And there are over 200
stained glass windows.

(vigorous Middle Eastern music) And now we are heading
across the courtyard to the Hagia Sophia. (vigorous Middle Eastern music) And it started off as
a Christian Basilica, and then it became a
Roman Catholic Cathedral, and then it became a
mosque, and now present-day it is a museum. But, there is just layer
upon layer of history. They didn't allow me to
bring my microphone inside, but they said video is okay. So, the audio might not be so good. But, we are entering
into Hagia Sophia now. (softer, mysterious Middle Eastern music) It is absolutely gigantic,
and the main dome which is right above me
right now, it's so high. They are doing some
construction in here right now, so there is scaffolding on one side. But that doesn't take
away from the magnitude of this place. And you can just feel the
ancient history in here. (peppy Middle Eastern music) There is even a noticeable aroma in here that smells kind of like
stone and kind of like must.

It just smells ancient in here. Along with the dome and
the entire Hagia Sophia, one of the things that
I've noticed is the floor, which includes just
giant pieces of marble. Just imagine how many
1,000s and 1,000s of people have passed through this same door and walked across this same stone. And you can see it starting to slump. We are now heading up
to the upper gallery, oh, and entering this, it feels
like we're underground here. (vigorous Middle Eastern music) It just keeps on going and going, wrapping around and up. (vigorous Middle Eastern music) I'm gonna go look out this
window and I think you can get a nice view of the Blue Mosque from here. Oh, yeah. (foreign words are spoken) Hagia Sophia is a place that
I have dreamed about visiting ever since high school,
when I took a course on Western Civilization. So it is, I'm extremely
glad to have had the chance to visit, it was amazing. When you come to Istanbul,
you do not wanna miss seeing, both the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. We are now walking over
to the Topkapi Palace. (vigorous Middle Eastern music) And I think I forgot to
mention this earlier, but I bought a Museum Pass Istanbul, and it costs 85 Lira, and it is valid for many of the museums and
it's valid for five days.

So even, we entered into Hagia Sophia and now we're gonna enter into the Palace. Each of those entrances
on their own are 40 Liras. So with the card, that's
just an extra little bit and it also allows access
to many more museums. So if you're planning to
visit many of the museums in Istanbul, it's a great
way to save some money and also it allows you to
bypass the lines for tickets. The entrance of the Palace
really looks like a castle with two towers and the
doorway right in the middle. (softer Middle Eastern music) You have to walk through a
series of gates and courtyards. The landscape, the trees, and the gardens, and the courtyards are also
really nice at this Palace. The entire Palace area is
huge, you can definitely spend a couple of hours just
walking around the courtyards and the gardens, and then
going into the different rooms.

And now I am out here,
this is the third courtyard I think, and there's a nice
view overlooking the Bosphorus. (jazzy saxophone music) This is the Golden Pavilion
where the Sultan is reported to have broken his fast
during the Ramadan period. (jazzy saxophone music) For our final stop at the Palace,
I'm in the Imperial Harem, which is an area of the
Palace that was reserved exclusively for women. And this is supposed to
be one of the highlights of visiting the Palace.

What's already amazing just
entering is the tile work and the preservation of the tiles. (soft, mysterious Middle Eastern music) I just spent some time looking
around the Imperial Hall, that's one of the most impressive places in the whole Palace. (water trickles, voices murmur) That was the perfect way to
end this tour of the Palace. That was definitely the
most impressive part of the whole Palace,
it's so well-preserved and it's a lot bigger than
I thought it was gonna be. You just keep walking through the hallways and the rooms and passageways. And the tile work is
especially just, yeah. You just have to admire it. All of this sightseeing
has really made me hungry, so next, Ying and I are
on our way to lunch.

(peppy, modern chime music) (voices murmur) For lunch today we walked
over to a restaurant that is famous for serving
Cag Kebap, which is on a horizontal spit and
I think I may have gotten the best seat in the entire restaurant, out here in the alley. But right, literally right
behind me is the spit of meat. He is carving the meat,
so I'm getting like the meat aromas from behind
me and it smells unbelievable. They're using real fire to cook the meat and it's just sizzling. You can see the fat and
the juices actually like bubbling on the skewer of meat. It is a pretty packed
environment here for lunch and I ordered up the special. You can smell the aroma,
the fumes of the lamb, roasting over that fire, or
up to the side of that fire, because it's a horizontal spit. He just masterfully slices off the meat, and making sure that
the meat is both juicy, but slightly crispy on the edges.

And then you can see how
the meat is both going to be like oily and juicy, but kind
of crispy at the same time. And also serve it with
bread and a roasted chili as well as onions and we got us a couple of side dishes as well. But I just first have to
immediately taste that meat with nothing on it. Get some of that meat
off, just look at this, look at this thing of beauty. Oh, oh yeah, that is stunning. It's so nicely salty, but
that really brings out like the oily flavor of the real lamb. And then, it's not like a
fall apart tender texture, but it's very tender to
chew, but it does have a little bit of a texture to it. Wow, that's incredible. Now onto the bread, and
what I see most people do is you grab, this is a very thin bread. I'm gonna leave it to the
half, and what I'll do with the rest of that skewer
is I will put all of the rest.

I think you can kind of
just wrap it up like this and pull off all of that meat, and slide it all out,
put this on the side. I'm gonna actually add
in that whole chili, and then also I've gotta
add in some onions. The plate of onions, and
I think that is sumac sprinkled on top. Onions, perfect. And then I'm gonna sprinkle
on some of this dry chili, and then wrap this up. (voices murmur in a foreign language) That meat is so crazily
flavorful that it just provides flavor for the entire bread. But I love it with the
addition of those onions and especially that roasted chili. Now, I'll stick this onto my next bite. Mm, we've also got some type of a soup. I think that's like a lentil soup. It's like a, I think
it's like a lentil puree. We've also got a mixed
salad, there are tomatoes in here and cucumbers
and parsley and chilies. Mm, oh yeah, I need to
squeeze on the lemon. (voices murmur in a foreign language) Mm, the tomatoes in
Turkey have been so good.

For my next roll, and you can order more skewers of meat as well. I'm gonna double up on the meat, and next skewer. What I love so much about this meat is it is the absolute perfect
ratio of fat and meat. So, it's soft, but it's not too soft. And then, it is just packed with flavor. And that saltiness really brings
out the flavor of the lamb. It's just yeah, it's unbelievably good. I like to go heavy on the onions as well. I may as well go for all the onions. This is gonna be a thick one. Add some of this, and
I think this is mostly, I think this might be a combination of both tomatoes and red chilies.

But it's very fragrant,
a little bit spicy, and fantastic, and then I gotta sprinkle some dry chili on here as well. And then, another half a chili here. This one is pretty big, but this is gonna be fantastic. (voices murmur in a foreign language) I could not resist the opportunity to order some more meat. I had to have two more
skewers, it's just so good. And I'm not gonna eat any
bread, just pure steak. Oh, I'll take that thick
piece from the middle there.

That meat is spectacular, oh it's so good. Yeah, I think I'm in love with
the grilled meats of Turkey. That was fabulous. And this is their very
famous dessert here. I'm not sure the name of
it, but they only serve one dessert, and you can
see walnuts in the middle and it looks like almost
little noodles on the outside. And then it looks like a
sweet, kind of syrupy dressing. Mm, I think those are the
vermicelli, which are fried so they're crispy and then soaked in like a very sweet, sugary syrup. And then those walnuts are in the middle. It is pretty sweet for
me, I do prefer the salty, but that is very good though. – Ah, yeah. The tea is a fantastic
way to end that meal. – I come from all east, and now the (foreign word) is going east.

– Okay, okay, this was so good. It's so good. I am from America, but I live in Thailand. – Ah, Thailand, I also came across. – My wife is from Thailand. Oh, okay. – I know, the best Cag
Kebap around Istanbul you are now sitting. – We ate it already. (words in a foreign language) Oh, (laughing) very nice. Oh, so then they grill
like also, okay, wow. Wow, that is right off the fire. Oh, that is stunning. That is amazing. – Thank you. – That is right off the spit. (words in a foreign language) Wow, that literally
just melted in my mouth.

You have to go, "Mm." (laughter) Oh, that was one of the
most amazing meals ever. The food was awesome
and the people eating, they were all so amazing. We met one man who sat next to us eating. And so the tables are
lined up so you inevitably need to sit next to someone,
because it's always busy. And so, the man that sat
next to us, he was really friendly, he started chatting,
he said that he traveled all the way from the
Asian side, somewhere far on the Asian side of
Istanbul to come to eat at this restaurant. Because this is the best,
maybe one of the only and definitely the best
place in all of Istanbul that serves this type of kebab. Also, a special thanks to
all of you who recommended that restaurant, that
was just a mind-blowing meat experience.

(peppy electronic chime music) The next place we are going
today is the Basilica Cistern. (lively, jazzy saxophone music) The Basilica Cistern is
one of the many underground cisterns in Istanbul. And this one that we're
gonna visit it's located right across the street from Hagia Sophia. It's really dark and kind of feels damp and musty down here. This was an ancient
cistern that dates back to the Byzantine period,
and it was commissioned by Emperor Justinian the
First in the sixth century. Although there are many
underground cisterns in Istanbul, this is one of the largest and it is a water storage facility. It measures 70 meters by 140 meters.

I have read that some
people find it spooky, scary in here, and some people
find it kind of romantic. What are you thinking? Is it scary or romantic? – Both. – [Mark] Both at the same time? – [Ying] Mm, hm. – It definitely is a little bit spooky. (soft Middle Eastern percussion music) Definitely one of the main
attractions at the cistern are the statues of Medusa,
and there are two of them at the base of the columns. And it's not quite sure
known how the Roman Medusa statues got here to the
cistern, but it's thought that they were brought
over from the Roman Empire. I have to wait until I get under one of the lamps to blog. With all the fish down here, you could definitely survive for a while, too. (child's voice cries out
in a foreign language) We just exited back onto ground level from that dark dungeon,
that was pretty cool. So basically, this entire
ground and this park which is located right here,
the cistern is below that.

It's the middle of the afternoon, I think that we've
decided to take the tram back to our hotel and rest for
a little while before dinner. (rattling, rumbling on tracks) (voices speak in a foreign language) (peppy electronic chime
music with clapping) We rested in the hotel for a little while and now back out walking,
and we're heading over to an area call Besiktas for dinner.

And the reason I know
Besiktas is because they have a football team and so
I recognized the name of the neighborhood. (jazzy saxophone music) We arrive to the restaurant, this place is called Balkan Lokantasi. And this is a very popular restaurant in a very busy area of town. And it is cafeteria-style, so actually we've had to line up, because there are so many people here. And we are getting in line
and then we're gonna order whatever looks good. Okay, so you grab a tray
down here on the bottom. Oh my goodness, there are so many choices. (woman's voice in a foreign language) Chicken, in the back? (voices murmur in a foreign language) (rattling, clinking) This is the type of meal
that is my favorite to eat in Thailand, it's called (foreign word), which means rice and curry. And they have all of the
different dishes prepared and you just get rice and you choose the different dish that you want. That's in Thailand, but this is the Turkish version of that.

You grab a tray and they just, they must have at least two
dozen, maybe three dozen dishes available, you
just point and choose for the dishes that you want. Or if you know the names, you choose them, and then you put them on your tray, you just walk through the
line, your tray gets pushed down the line and then you
pay for whatever you eat. And I made a little bit of a mistake, because it was so busy and so
kind of like rushed to order that I didn't really
know what I was ordering.

So I just pointed to bunch of dishes, and so I may have gotten a
little bit too much food. But I think that's
okay, it looks fantastic and I'm getting ready to dig in. This is an awesome restaurant, and I'm gonna eat Thai style,
with my spoon and fork. This one is chick peas I
believe, garbanzo beans. And I saw most people
eating it with this rice, which is rice which
looks like there's some, a few small vegetables within the rice.

And most people actually
got the rice with this on top of it, but I didn't
know how to order that, so I just got it on the side. I will put some of this onto the rice, chili flakes on there. Mm, that's like a slightly spicy, tomatoey chick pea stew. That's just like good,
classic beans and rice. I think this one is yogurt with eggplant, I think that's yogurt,
and oh, are there roasted chilies in here too? Mm, that is a very, very
creamy I think, yogurt and very rich, and then there are pieces of roasted eggplant. I think there are, there
might be potatoes in here and maybe some tomatoes as well. And I think this one is another salad, maybe with yogurt and some
kind of green vegetable. That tastes like spinach,
just flooded in yogurt.

That is nice, that's very cooling. Okay next dish, and this
one looks fantastic. It looks like a piece of
cheese on top with some kind of green vegetable and
then on the bottom of this like cap of vegetable cheese are pieces of meat and potatoes. Wow, this is like a complete meal dish. At least one that goes
with all the dishes. Mm, okay this one is awesome. It's like a creamy,
oily sauce with nuggets of tender, I think it's beef
and then the green vegetable is very soft and tender, and
then just a cheese cap.

But the cheese is not too rich or salty. Mm, I like this. And I think this should
be eaten with rice. It's either, maybe it's
beef, I'm really not sure. Oh, that is awesome, that meat is fall-apart tender. And that's like a little bit of a tangy, like tomatoey sauce, it
kind of tastes similar to the chick peas, but
the meat version of it. And then this is another eggplant we got, with tomatoes in it. Mm, just creamy, roasted
eggplant with tart tomatoes. I am pretty stuffed
after eating that meal. That was a lot of yogurt. I don't know if I've
ever eaten so much yogurt in one meal in my life. But that was some really
good food that tastes really like homemade, home cooking, actually. And this restaurant has
just continually the line has never stopped the entire
time I was eating in here.

And actually, it's gotten longer. People just keep flowing
through this restaurant and this is a quick place to chow down. I would have loved to
come to this restaurant when I was in university,
when I could eat more than I can now. But that was a wonderful meal, thank you to all of you who
recommended this restaurant. I'm gonna end the video
for today right now. I think we just gotta
walk back to the hotel and I need to walk off this, this meal. Thank you all for watching this video. Please remember to give it a thumbs up if you enjoyed it.

Leave a comment below. It has been an amazing
full day in Istanbul and it's been sort of a tour of some of the main attractions,
some delicious food, and I will see you on the next video. Thank you again for watching. (beep) (words in a foreign language) And can you see anything? (laughter) Ying is looking right
into the piece of wood, but I'm getting a nice view of the Bosphorus. Do I look like a ghost? (woman speaks words in foreign language) Okay. (rhythmic percussion music).

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Amazing Turkish Food and Attractions in Istanbul - Istanbul, Turkey, Travel Guide!

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Day 9: Istanbul, Turkey - This was a day of sightseeing at some of the most famous attractions in Istanbul that I’ve wanted to visit my entire life including the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. And the read highlight of the day for me was the incredible Turkish food, especially the kebabs.

Museum Pass Istanbul - 85 TRY ($28.88) - Before getting started with the things we did in this video, I purchased a Museum Pass for Istanbul, which granted me access to a few of the attractions without having to stand in line. I’m not sure if I really saved much money, but it did save time.

2:00 Sultan Ahmet Camii (Blue Mosque) - Our first stop of the day in this attractions in Istanbul video was the Sultan Ahmet Camii, which is commonly known as the Blue Mosque due to its blue tiles on the inside. We actually arrived a little too early in the morning, so they were not open yet, so we walked around the Hippodrome of Constantinople for a few minutes. When the Blue Mosque opened, we went inside. Both inside and outside are incredible to see.

5:37 Hagia Sophia - One of the most famous pieces of architecture in all of Istanbul and one of the most famous attractions is Hagia Sophia. It started off as a church, later became a mosque, and now it’s an official museum. After entering, you can walk around the main room, but the highlight of visiting Hagia Sophia for me was walking up to the upper galleries for some amazing views from above.

8:24 Topkapi Palace - Finally, one more of the most famous attractions in Istanbul, and located right in the same area as Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque is Topkapi Palace, which was an Ottoman Palace. You can walk around the gardens and palace structures, which are now galleries. I especially enjoyed the Imperial Harem, which was a section of the palace reserved for women, and the best preserved area of the palace.

11:25 Sehzade Erzurum Cag Kebab (Şehzade Cağ Kebap) - There are many different types of Turkish food, and cag kebab is a type of kebab from Erzurum in Eastern Turkey. According some some men I met while eating the amazing kebabs, this is the best restaurant for cag kebab in all of Istanbul. The type of kebab is made from lamb, and instead of being on a vertical skewer like other types of kebabs, it’s grilled on a horizontal skewer. The meat is cooked with wood fire, and slice off onto smaller skewers to be served. If you get a chance to try cag kebab, it’s an absolutely stunning Turkish food. The entire meal was delicious, but the best part was meeting the owner of Sehzade Erzurum Cag Kebab and eating a slice of the meat right off the roll hot and fresh. Out entire meal cost 85 TL ($28.88).

20:34 Basilica Cistern - 20 TRY ($6.80) - Arter the amazing Turkish food lunch, we headed over to see the Basilica cistern, one of many underground cisterns in Istanbul. It was interesting to see. We then headed to the hotel for a rest, and then went out again for dinner.

23:27 Dinner at Balkan Lokantasi - Beşiktaş is a neighborhood in Istanbul and we walked over to a restaurant for dinner in that neighborhood called Balkan Lokantasi. It was an extremely busy restaurant serving all sorts of different Turkish food in a cafeteria like style. You walk through the line, choose whatever dishes you want, and pay for what you get. You can eat a serious feast for a pretty good price. I got a little confused and didn’t really know what I was doing, so ended up ordering what was way too much food. But that’s alright, it was all really delicious.

It was fantastic day of Turkish food and visiting some attractions in Istanbul that I had wanted to visit my entire life.


Disclaimer and Thank You:
This trip was made possible by Star Alliance and their Round The World tickets ( who sponsored my business class flights.
The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul sponsored my stay in Istanbul. Thank you to Star Alliance, Marriott Hotels, and Turkish Airlines for making this trip happen.

I personally paid for all food and attractions in this video, and decided what to do.


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