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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rooftop Envy

The best views of Istanbul were from the roofs and there were plenty of rooftop bars and restaurants to choose from. T recalled that when he was last here, 25 years ago, roofs were poor man's rent. As a young backpacker, he used to pay a mere dollar to sleep on them and now the same roofs are prime property.

Hotels and restaurants with terraces competed for your attention, and of course some won hands down. Mikla was my favourite, it is also the highest point in the part of town called Beyoglu. The bar and restaurant was on top of a hotel Marmara Pera.

We went there first for dinner and though quite pricey, was well worth it. I had the lamp chops with pomegranate molasses and T had cherry-wood smoked lamb loins served on pinto bean mash, which were outstanding. I finished off with a Granny Smith souffle with creamy vanilla ice cream while T, who usually skipped sweets, ordered the Mastic and Turkish Coffee Millefeuille with Raspberry Sorbet just to see how it turned out. Mine was superb but T's was very unusual but still yummy.

We went back a second time, just to have cocktails at the bar and watched the sun go down behind the Golden Horn waters and the mosques in the old city. The bottles at the bar have the best seat in the house.

The sun went down only at 8pm every night and even after the blood red ball of fire goes down, the sky maintains a blue azure glow for a while before the city lights up like Christmas.

On a different night, we were directed to another bar/club/restaurant called 360. This bar was only on the 8th floor but the terrace provided a panoramic view of the old and new city surrounding it. The interior was   industrial meet chic modern.

It was on top of Misir apartments which itself looked very handsome.

The terrace was massive and if you booked, you could have a seat at one of these funky round booths overlooking the views.

The menus themselves were funky, with graphics like a comic book. On the inside cover, it warned people from trying to nick it, offering to sell to interested customers at 25 lira instead.

Bets seat in the house? Well as I scanned the surrounding roofs, I saw a deck chair placed on one of the neighbouring buildings. 

( bottom right of the photo)

During the first few nights of our trip, we spent it in the old city of Sultanahmet, close to the major tourist sights. We spotted the Seven Hills restaurant and went  up there for dinner one night. Food was simple but delicious.

The waiters wheeled the mezze buffet cart around and you pick whatever you fancied.

We also ordered some freshly grilled black snapper as a main, which they kindly serve after de-boning at the table.

The sights in the old mosques and palace were very lovely and restored brillantly. It was hard to imagine but some of the doors and tiles were from 2 BC.

Pity some people think it's ok to vandalize these historical buildings.

The washing of feet area is centuries old too, look at the indentations.

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