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City Guide: Istanbul With Nick Curly

Words by Nick Curly

A happy new year and decade everyone. Hopefully, your holidays were enjoyable. If you were lucky enough to receive plane tickets, but aren't sure where to go, perhaps we can be of assistance? Kicking off a brand new season of cultural immersion, we travel to the mystical city of Istanbul, Turkey, with German transplant Nick Curly, 

nick curly

We all like a good drink, so where are the top spots to head to before a night out?

Istanbul is one of my favourite cities in the world. The city has so much life and magic like no other. Not only that, but I believe its the only city in the world that connects two continents (Asia and Europe) with a bridge, it is also a melting pot of cultures. I would go to one of the countless bars or rooftops overlooking the Bosphorus which is a waterway that forms the continental boundary between Europe and Asia. There are a lot of bars which offer the view, so take your pick. From this point, you can feel the true and best magic of the city.

bosphorus 1

Where can you find the best clubs / late-night venues in town?

Most clubs, bars, and nightlife are all in Taksim and Beyoglu. These are also my personal favorite parts of town, where you can expect to meet the hippest people and also a big and varied selection of nightlife.

One of these is Cukurcuma 49, which is right near Taksim Square. It's a bar and café with exposed brick walls and a wine cellar. The thin crust pizza here is worth raving about, and the wines pair perfectly as they are specially bottled on the Aegean Island of Bozcaada. They also play music late into the evening and the liquor flows! Stop by for a great freshly made dinner, good drinks and its charming atmosphere.

Brunches are a weekend staple, which spots stand out for you?

For me, there is one spot that you need to go to only. That is the Kempinski Hotel in town. I know you don't always think of a hotel when it comes to brunch, but this place is just outstanding with its location in a palace next to the sea. I often go here after my gig at RX Club.

Best dirty late-night street food option?

There is a dish here called Kokorec, it's a Turkish meal made of lamb intestines. Yeah sounds nasty, but it's the intestines of suckling lams (süt Kuzusu) and it's the most favoured of everyone in the city. You’ll find a lot of places selling it on the street. It's not something that you eat in a proper restaurant. I personally like it after a night out drinking.

Where can we shop for records and music memorabilia in Istanbul?

Some cities are good for food, others for ancient ruins and others for culture. Istanbul has a lot of all of these, but I do not think that anyone has come here for record shopping, but I know there are a few stores in Taksim. I used to go when I stayed a few days in town, but haven't for a long time. Skip the record shopping for some local souvenirs which you can't get at home.

Your Sunday escape plan when you need to get away from it all?

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I would take a boat and go to one of the Princes Islands. Wow, they are beautiful and it‘s a daydream of a trip. No cars or motorbikes are allowed on these islands, which makes them extra special. There are a lot of horses, which you can take instead as your day's transportation. It has a total Sunday escapism vibe.

Something everyone should do when visiting Istanbul, but probably hast?

A must-see for anyone, whether you’re into finding things that are off the beaten track or not is the Blue Mosque better known as Sultan Ahmed Mosque. It‘s a historic mosque located in the centre of Istanbul. Today, it still remains as a functioning mosque, while also attracting a large number of tourists visiting year on year. It was constructed between 1609 and 1616 during the rule of Ahmed I. 

blue mosque

Also make sure to see the view of the Bosphorus which is a narrow, natural strait and an internationally significant waterway located in northwestern Turkey. It forms part of the continental boundary between Europe and Asia and divides Turkey by separating Anatolia from Thrace

A track that reminds you of your childhood in the city?

Well, as I grew up in Germany, and moved to Turkey a year ago, I’ll choose a track which reminds me of the country. I do not like in Istanbul itself, but Antalya which is less chaotic and peaceful.

SIS ‘Voices Of Istanbul’ is my choice – which actually was released on my label in 2006!

What are some other great exports that come from Istanbul / Turkey?

Music and talent-wise, there are some amazing DJ’s that have come from Turkey over the years. Some of my personal favourites are Onur Özer, Tangun, Cure-shot, and Ali Kuru. They all grew up here, and I am sure they are jointly responsible for having a large influence and impact on the scene here.

Apart from this Turkey exports most of the fruits and vegetables to all of Europe. It has huge areas of land, and with its perfect climate, it makes it a No.1 place for agriculture.

A gift you can't leave Istanbul without taking home for friends?

Apart from the great memories, which you’ll take home, I recommend buying some Turkish Lokum. This is a selection of sweet treats that are made of starch gel and sugar, or maybe known better as Turkish Delight!

You can buy this nearly everywhere and it comes in so many different flavours.


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