Taking you beyond the guidebook

Inspiring you to live your best life through travel

Okey And Turkish Tea In A “Men-Only” Hangout In Istanbul

simit

Traditional Turkish simit. Photo courtesy of -Patxi Izkue-

“Tonight I’m going to take you away from the touristy restaurants and show you what and where the locals eat.”

I’m currently on an Istanbul by Night: Turkish Food Tour with my local guide, Yuke Celik. She’s a pretty 26-year-old with a passion for local culture, especially when it comes to traditional Turkish food and drink. After showing me around the main hub of the city, Taksim Square, with its Atatürk Cultural Center, Independence Monument and mix of churches, mosques and temples we stop on Istiklal Street — the most popular place to go for food, shopping and nightlife — to pick up our first morsel for the evening, simit. A popular local street food typically eaten for breakfast or a quick snack on the go, simit is a crispy circular bread encrusted with sesame seeds.

Okey

Playing Okey while drinking traditional Turkish tea.

Instead of quickly scarfing it down, however, we head down Bekar Street to visit Oflular Kiraathanesi, one of Istanbul’s many “men only” hangouts. While it’s not forbidden for women to enter — obviously, since Yuke and I are women — they are not really welcome; however, as I am on a local cultural tour the manager gets a kick out of it. The venue is small, with men drinking tea, watching the horse races on television and playing games like backgammon and cards. Yuke and I sit down to a game of “Okey” which is kind of like Rummy as you pick upside down tiles and try to form different color number matches and same color number sequences. As we’re playing and enjoying our simit, the manager brings over small tulip-shaped glasses of Turkish tea. This traditional tea is a black tea drank without milk that is produced on the eastern Black Sea coast. It’s extremely strong, and some people like to add extra hot water or sugar to dilute it. In Turkey, it is customary when your glass is empty to place your spoon inside if you would like more, or upside over the top if you’re finished.

Despite the fact it’s my first time playing Okey, I win two rounds in a row. I’m told in Turkey the game is very popular to play at home as well as in tea shops and coffee houses.

Jessie Festa standing in front of grafitti wall

Hi, I’m Jessie on a journey!

I take you beyond the guidebook to inspire you to live your best life through travel. Come join me!

travel funsheets

Want to live your best life through travel?

Subscribe for FREE access to my library of fun blogging worksheets and learn how to get paid to travel more!

5 Comments

  1. Lauren Meshkin on September 9, 2013 at 12:58 am

    Sounds yummy! I had never really considered going on a food tour whilst traveling. I always rely on guide books or apps to find a good restaurant. After reading a few travel blogs I’ve quickly realized how much I’ve been missing! Definitely booking a tour on my next trip abroad. Great post

    Happy travels 🙂

  2. Lindsay Comer on November 20, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    Awesome! I have a day layover in Istanbul on my way home from Prague – the food tour sounds like an excellent idea 🙂

    • jess2716 on November 20, 2013 at 9:11 pm

      @Lindsay: I highly recommend it! 🙂

  3. Serhat on July 7, 2016 at 5:44 am

    Vow! You experienced being a local in Istanbul. Even played okey! 🙂 Great post.

Leave a Comment





map

THE NEW STRATEGY FOR PROFITABLE TRAVEL BLOGGING

Short on time but eager to learn how to REALLY grow your blogging business? This FREE 5-day email course was made for you.

travel funsheets

Sign up for my email list and get FREE access to my library of fun blogging worksheets and learn how to get paid to travel more!

Success! You'll be receiving your resource library login information soon.

free email course

Short on time but eager to learn how to REALLY grow your blogging business? Sign up for my email list and get this FREE 5-day email course was made for you.

You have successfully subscribed! Check your inbox for your course welcome email. Make sure to add jessie@jessieonajourney.com to your contacts so it doesn't go to spam.

free email course

You DON’T need a partner to explore the globe. Learn how to feel confident while mastering the art of traveling by yourself by signing up for my email list and getting this FREE e-mail course.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

travel funsheets

Sign up for my email list and get FREE access to my library of fun blogging worksheets and learn how to get paid to travel more!

Success! You'll be receiving your resource library login information soon.

free email course

Short on time but eager to learn how to REALLY grow your blogging business? Sign up for my email list and get this FREE 5-day email course was made for you.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

multi-season packing list

Want to add more travel to your life? Sign up for my email list and get these resources to help you plan your trip smart, pack light and go beyond your guidebook.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

free email course

You DON’T need a partner to explore the globe. Learn how to feel confident while mastering the art of traveling by signing up for my email list and getting this FREE e-mail course.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Explore NYC travel guidebook

I'm a native New Yorker, licensed sightseeing guide and curious explorer. Sign up for my email list and get my FREE Explore NYC Like A Local Guide and I promise to take you beyond the Empire State Building.

You have successfully subscribed! Check your inbox for the FREE Explore NYC Like A Local Guide. If you don't see it in the next few minutes, check your spam folder for a message from jessie@jessieonajourney.com. Hint: Replying to the welcome email you'll receive helps ensure my emails to you go to your inbox, and not to spam! :)

Read previous post:
Notes On Trying To Date At Home But Live Nomadically

"Is this always how it's going to be?" I was going on another one of my "little trips" again, and...

Close