Your ultimate guide to life in Istanbul

Your round-the-clock guide to the city – delivered by local experts

Things to do

Two continents, one race

The only one of its kind?You might’ve heard claims that the Bosphorus race is the only swimming competition held between two continents, but you’d be wrong to believe them. The annual Hellespont and Dardanelles Swim on August 30 also takes place between Asia and Europe, and it’s a tradition that’s been around for two years longer than the Bosphorus race. The Istanbul race owes its popularity to its location and relatively easy course. Calling swimmers of all agesContestants in the Bosphorus Cross-Continental are divided into 12 categories by age, with the youngest age group being 14-18. The title of the oldest swimmer to compete in the 70+ age group belongs to Levent Aksüt, who was 83 at the time of the race in 2013. There’s no age limit to how old the competitors can be, but needless to say, all swimmers must have passed physical exams to prove that they can complete the long course. The four-legged swimmerThe Bosphorus Cross-Continental is an event that gets more exposure with each passing year thanks to the participation of famous guest swimmers like Mark Spitz and Ian Thorpe. Yet there’s one former guest of the event who stands out among all the rest: in 1997, American marathon swimmer Ted Erikson competed in the event with another record-breaking swimmer, his dog Umbra. She completed the course in 73 minutes, naturally favoring the dog paddle technique to do so. The first raceThe very first Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swimming Race was held in 1989 between Çubuklu and

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Music

20 essential rules for music festivals

We’re lovers not haters – until we get into a field full of moaners, poseurs, pissers and Instagram posters, that is. Follow these rules and you might still have some friends left at the end of the weekend

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Music

The unsung heroes of music

Meet the people behind the scenes at your favorite concerts

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Things to do

Nine things you’ll probably experience while playing Pokémon GO

You’ll score points (no pun intended) with people for knowing how to download the game. Since Pokémon GO isn’t officially available in Turkey yet, users hereabouts have to download it using international app stores – which puts you, as an English speaker, at a great advantage… if you know which sites to use, that is. We suggest acting quick to make the most of your newfound power, as the game will likely be available in Turkey before too long.   #pokemon#pokemongo#zubat@Pokemon@PokemonGoMemess yeah i found a zubat in my grandfathers grave pic.twitter.com/vjSZZPYrXL — Mango ☁︎ (@eyorukk21) July 9, 2016 You’ll grow tired of running into Zubats. Get ready to see more Zubats than you could ever wish in your home, office, bus stops and even cemeteries.   Ash pokemon turnuvası için Bağcılara gidiyor pic.twitter.com/8GnLIipPrJ — Yiğit Şanlı (@FearlessShady) December 25, 2014 You’ll notice you’re surrounded by Pokémon hunters when you least expect it. With their slow, zombie-like steps and telltale finger movements as they try to throw a Pokéball on their phones, it’s only a matter of time before you’re able to recognize a Pokémon GO user from miles away. It’s like that feeling of running into someone from your own country or even town while traveling in Turkey, but we can almost guarantee that you’ll get used to it much more quickly – after all, Pokémon hunters are everywhere.     You’ll grow aware of structures and details you pass by everyday but never

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Travel

Weekend getaways

It’s time to pack your bags and wave the city goodbye for a little fun in the sun. Whether you seek to live like you’re made of money or simply to get away from the crowds, Özgür Gezer’s got you covered

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Latest restaurant reviews

Restaurants

Kavanoz Kitchen

The downside to writing about new restaurants as a profession is that friends and family often bombard you with requests for places to eat – and you invariably find yourself struggling to choose from dozens of options. Yet sometimes, you come across such a restaurant that its name naturally rolls off your tongue when prompted for a recommendation. And Kavanoz Kitchen is one of those restaurants. The eatery is the latest project by Eda Sılay Aysel and Cüneyt Aysel, whose café (also named Kavanoz) proved to be one of this year’s most popular new openings in Arnavutköy. Kavanoz Kitchen is located at the end of the same one-way street as the café, and the couple believes they’ve managed to bring their vision to life with this second eatery. Set on the ground floor of a villa, the restaurant is simply divine for romantic dinners in the garden or cozy indoor gatherings with friends around the fireplace (in winter, obviously). Chef Gökhan Çilak (who previously worked at Barbounia) draws inspiration from both Mediterranean and meyhane fare to serve a succinct menu of hot and cold mezes and six main courses. The oxtail mantı (36 TL) is Çilak’s own recipe: it comes with ravioli-sized mantı filled with tender, aromatic meat. The lobster with onions, red and yellow tomatoes (prices vary) is another bold recipe that Eda Sılay Aysel learned in Italy. You’ll find classic meyhane fare like hummus, fava bean paste and black-eyed peas, but if you’re in the mood to try one of their hot mezes,

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Bars and pubs

The Populist

With the arrival The Populist, Bomontiada finally does justice to the historic brewery whose site it occupies. At the time of our visit, this microbrewery was serving six different beers crafted by brewmaster Tobias Palmer, though we hear that number is expected to reach 24 in no time. The Populist’s food menu is an exemplary take on bar fare. You’ll find fries done just about every way imaginable (14-27.50 TL), as well as pizettas from the stone oven with inventive toppings like kokoreç (24 TL). The curly fries with chopped brisket and cheese sauce, served alongside strained yogurt, are filling enough for two (27.50 TL). The Populist’s airy ambience and signature beers have already made it a favorite for Bomonti residents this summer – the only downside is that you can’t make reservations for the outdoor tables, so we recommend heading there as early as possible to make the most of the breezy courtyard. 

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Restaurants

Brasserie Noir

This sister restaurant to Bağdat Caddesi eatery Rotisserie Noir serves a French-inspired menu in a setting that’s much more spacious than the original. In contrast to the predominantly black décor of Rotisserie, Brasserie Noir boasts white tablecloths and chic red chairs as well as live music for dinner service. Our favorite starters include the shredded beef taco (21 TL) and the goat cheese tart with caramelized onions (19 TL). Those who enjoy sweet-and-savory dishes should try the pide with Roquefort and pears (29 TL). Red meat is the highlight of the menu here as it is at Rotisserie: in addition to sumptuous dishes like lamb karski (49 TL) and Noir beef cutlets (41 TL), you’ll also find specialty meats like uykuluk (sweetbread, 30 TL). Brasserie builds on the good word of mouth Rotisserie achieved through its expertise in cooking techniques: in other words, you won’t be disappointed. Be sure to make reservations if you’d like to visit for Sunday brunch. 

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Restaurants

Black Angus

Karaköy's newest burger and steak joint Black Angus won us over with its reasonable prices. The meat comes from Angus farms in Balıkesir, Bursa and Thrace. Just like Virginia Angus – the popular Angus steakhouse with locations in Eminönü and Nişantaşı – the menu at Black Angus consists of burgers and cuts of meat, with prices ranging from 16.75-27.75 TL. The burgers come with a lean beef patty that doesn’t fall apart, served with freshly baked buns that have a crispy crust, soft interior and slightly sweet flavor. If you’d rather forgo the bread and home-cut fries served alongside the burgers, you can also opt for the assorted meat platter (52 TL) so you won’t have to choose among the kaşarlı köfte, lokum and entrecote. Don’t let the limited seating on the ground floor dissuade you from trying to find a table: there’s plenty of room on the second floor.

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This month’s must-see art exhibitions

Art

Mario Prassinos: In Pursuit of an Artist, Istanbul-Paris-Istanbul

The Pera Museum might currently be on our radar thanks to the Jameel Prize 4 exhibition, but that’s not all you’ll find here: now through mid-August, the museum is showcasing the works of Mario Prassinos on the 100th anniversary of his birth. Born to a Greek-Turkish family of artists in the Pera neighborhood and raised abroad after the age of six, Prassinos enjoys a homecoming of sorts with this show. Before you start exploring the multidisciplinary works in the exhibition, we recommend reading up on the artist to get a sense of his relationship with Istanbul. The museum has also started a new collaboration with Turkey’s Fantasy and Science Fiction Arts Association (FABISAD) for a new series of decidedly creepy stories inspired by the Prassinos exhibition. The first of these stories, written by Mehmet Berk Yaltırık, can be viewed on the Pera Museum Blog. WHAT IS IT… Mario Prassinos returns to his birthplace with a selection of works on the 100th anniversary of his birth. WHY GO… To become acquainted with an artist who isn’t all that well known in Turkey despite being born here.

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Art

Seasons - Act II

This is the second show of the exhibition series organized by Bant Mag. and arthere to bring together Turkish and Syrian artists throughout the year. The works on display include Toufic Hamidi’s abstract depictions of animals and Sedat Girgin’s illustrations, which will be shown publicly for the first time.

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Art

(New) Media Arts Meetings

While we're in the grip of scorching temperatures, it might seem like our only two options are holing up at home under the AC with a cold drink in our hands or seeking momentary relief by heading down to the shore to dip our toes in the water. But if you’re looking for a more stimulating summertime activity, you’ll be happy to know there’s a new media arts-focused program in Çukurcuma this month. Organized by Creative Çukurcuma – a non-profit initiative founded last year by Naz Cuguoğlu and Mine Kaplangı – in collaboration with BLOK art space, the (New) Media Arts Meetings event series kicks off on Tuesday, July 12. Some of the participants include Performistanbul founder Simge Burhanoğlu, the cofounders of new Yeldeğirmeni gallery TOZ artist run space, the team behind the successful projects of NOHLab, as well as artists like Bahar Yörükoğlu and Hasan Özgür Top. The program also includes film screenings and biweekly reading group events hosted by Creative Çukurcuma.

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Art

Drawings from Sainte Anne

Our setting is the Sainte-Anne Psychiatric Hospital in Paris in the ’50s. A familiar face roams the courtyard, gardens and dormitory, always with a pencil or a blue pen in his hand. He starts off drawing rooms and buildings on crumpled pieces of paper, later favoring human figures and portraits. If we’ve managed to pique your interest, you can see these drawings at the Operation Room this month. Curated by Ilgın Deniz Akseloğlu, the exhibition showcases 43 drawings of painter Fikret Muallâ Saygı, who periodically spent time in the psychiatric hospital in France. Of these drawings, 32 are originals from the personal collections of Ferit Edgü and Metin Deniz. Despite all of the pain, fear and traumas he endured, Fikret Muallâ was an artist who valued his craft above all else. Whether you’re familiar with the artist or not, this is one of the month’s can’t-miss shows. WHAT IS IT… An exhibition featuring the works of legendary Turkish painter Fikret Muallâ. WHY GO… To see the drawings Muallâ created more than half a century ago.  

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Art

Not All That Falls Has Wings

This multidisciplinary show focuses on concepts like the equilibrium between rising and falling as well as the permanence of downfall via installations, paintings, video and film works. Our guides along this path include Bas Jan Ader, Phyllida Barlow and Cyprien Gaillard.

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This month's must-see gigs in Istanbul

Allan Harris, Roy Hargrove, Roberta Gambarini and the TRT Big Band and Jazz Orchestra

The TRT Big Band and Jazz Orchestra conducted by Kamil Özler performs with two prominent vocalists: Italian jazz singer Roberta Gambarini and New York-based baritone vocalist Allan Harris perform alongside American jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove.

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Damien Rice

This is the first Istanbul performance by Irish musician Damien Rice. After the release of his second album 9 in 2006, Rice spent eight years collaborating with various musicians before finally releasing his 2014 album, My Favourite Faded Fantasy, produced by Rick Rubin. We can almost guarantee you’ll see numerous fans shedding tears of joy as Rice takes the stage.

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