Kasimpasa Kastamonu Food Market

April 27th, 2008  | Category: Breakfast and Brunch, Turkish Cuisine

Kasimpasa Kastamonu Food Market 5

April 20th, 2008 Sunday, the break of dawn, Cafe Fernando Residences.

4:45 AM – While most of my friends are returning home from long hours of clubbing, I wake up at this ungodly hour – my eyes bloodshot red. I am going to the Kasimpasa Kastamonu food market for the love of blogging. I have to be there around 5:30 AM, right before all the restaurant owners and food enthusiasts show up and exhaust all the rare vegetables and herbs. I usually wake up with no kick left, but this morning I am quite energetic and cheerful. I head into the kitchen, turn the coffee machine on and hop into the shower. I planned the day minute by minute, so I am quite peaceful.

All of a sudden, a scary thought crosses my mind: What if the crazy lady in our apartment parked her car behind mine again, blocking my way as she usually does? It usually takes her lazy ass 30 minutes to get down and move the car. Terrified at the thought of seeing her freakishly frizzy hair and giant ass at that bright hour, I quickly rinse out the shampoo, put some clothes on and get out.

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5:00 AM – This must be my lucky day. Noone has parked behind my car, so I am instantly on the road to heaven. 3 times “4 Minutes” later, I arrive at the food market in exactly 12 minutes.

5:12 AM – I park my car at the first spot available and head right to the open market.

5:15 AM – The marketplace looks magical. The stand at the entrance catches my eye instantly. A group of ladies are preparing flatbreads. One of them waves at me and asks which kind I’d like. Cheese or herbs or both? I say both and start enjoying the grand view with a crepe in one hand and a steaming hot Turkish tea on the other.

5:25 AM – Then something peculiar catches my eye. There is an ancient marble fountain in the middle of the market and people are drinking an oozing brown liquid right from the faucet. I turn to the lady and ask what that is. She looks at me puzzled and says, “This must be your first time kiddo. That is a Nutella fountain!”

5:30 AM – Then, I wake up. I lie paralyzed and unwillingly listen to a stupid Turkish song called “Surprise”. That means my radio clock has been on for the last 45 minutes. I wonder what other surprises are ahead and quickly get off the bed.

5:40 AM – I am nowhere near happy. I head into the kitchen, turn the coffee machine on and hop into the shower.

6:00 AM – I am on the road, this time quite confused with the directions. Everything is back to normal.

6:15 AM – And then I get lost. No surprises here. I start wondering what the real surprise is. After a couple of stops and asking for directions, I finally spot the market.

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6:30 AM – There are no ladies preparing flatbreads, but only this cute dog saying hi. I pet him, he pets me back.

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6:45 AM – The food market isn’t crowded at all. I guess I missed the golden hours.

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6:50 AM – Kasimpasa Kastamonu food market is definitely one of Istanbul’s hidden treasures. Very few people know about it. Opening at 5 AM and closing at 10 AM may be the reason. The sellers, who come from Kastamonu to Istanbul every Saturday night, have been doing this for many years. They pick the fruit and vegetables and bake their bread the day before and travel almost 8 hours and start arranging their stands every Saturday night. Come 5:00 AM Sunday morning, the show starts. The produce is mainly from their home town Kastamonu, a gorgeous city in the Black Sea region of Turkey.

The most glorious stand belongs to Mr. Haci and his sons. As soon as they see me and my camera, they invite me to their breakfast table. I say thanks and sign that I will be coming around later. First, I need to walk the market from one end to another and see what’s available.

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7:00 AM – The stands all carry different items. One has chicken and eggs, the other mainly cheese varieties. One of them has huge sacks of grains and the one next to it carries all types of bread.

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But Mr. Haci’s stand has it all. Lots of vegetables and herbs (some of which I have never heard of), homemade tomato and pepper pastes, a bucket full of rose hip jam, different cheeses, eggs and best of all, whole wheat breads that his wife baked merely 10 hours ago.

Here is a large piece of cheese called “Eski Kasar”. It is a moderately fatty sheep’s cheese. “Eski” (old) means this is an aged cheese and as you’d expect, it has a salty taste and a slightly crumbly texture. The saltiness of this cheese is great with sweet breakfast items like marmalade and honey.

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The tastiest black olives I have ever eaten in my life. I am tempted to but the whole thing.

You are welcome to taste anything you like. The stand owners are extremely friendly and welcoming. You’ll definitely get asked to sit down with them and enjoy a cup of hot Turkish tea.

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Kasimpasa Kastamonu Food Market 8

Almost every stand has a large bucket of fresh lor cheese. Lor is a soft fresh cheese, a relative of the somewhat harder textured Ricotta of Italy, made in rural homes from the whey left over from cheese making.

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These sour apples have very low sugar content, so they are especially favored by people who have diabetes. They may look all wrinkly and bruised, but it has not even been a day since Mr. Haci’s son picked them from their own trees.

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Kastamonu food market is famous with its mushroom varieties that pop up during May. There weren’t many varieties last week, but Mr. Haci advised me to keep an eye on them in the following two weeks.

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Here is a photo of the rose hip jam I bought. Mr. Haci proudly mentions an article in which a photo of him spooning the dark red jam into a container was published.

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So I’m finally done shooting photos and decide to walk the market from one end to the other again and gather what I have been buying. I look up and see Mr. Haci’s older son stuffing my shopping bags with gifts from their stand.

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Dried mini pears and the cheese stand.

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Corn bread!

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My mom’s favorite. I quickly snatch one for her.

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Dirty potatoes. Can you believe that they were still warm?

8:15 AM – I get into my car and drive off. The streets are empty and that is a first for me! That alone is worth waking up early on a Sunday morning.

8:30 AM – I am home at last. While the eggs are boiling, I take a couple of test shots. The deep-orange colored yolks look so good, I immediately stop taking pictures and start enjoying the breakfast.

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9:00 AM – Sunday paper on the left, the best black olives in the world on the right, I say to myself, this is how a perfect Sunday morning should be.

Address: Kasimpasa Kastamonu food market is located in Dolapdere/Kasimpasa. It is right behind the BP gas station on Piyalepasha Boulevard. Here’s a satellite view. The gas station is located in the middle of the map.

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  1. 1 - Amanda on April 28th, 2008

    great shots! You deserve some praise for getting up at 5am for the sake of pictures, which by the way are my favorites. simple yet eye-catching, getting small glimpses of the neighborhood is really interesting.

  2. 2 - Sara, Ms. Adventures in Italy on April 28th, 2008

    I really enjoyed the pictures, and especially seeing what you would eat for breakfast! Olives? I’m getting hungry now.

  3. 3 - Vida on April 28th, 2008

    If these photos are what I would witness at the market, I would get up anytime for it!!! And if the breakfast was included (especially with rosehip jam) then I would be queen for the day!! Vida

  4. 4 - Silvia on April 28th, 2008

    Good morning. What a beautiful breakfast you did on sunday! I love to go to the market too but not only for the blog but also because I find always fresh fruits and veggies, eggs and meat and it’s cheaper that the supermarket!
    But I don’t wake up at 4.30 😛 I’m not that brave!!

  5. 5 - MariannaF on April 28th, 2008

    Ah finally I understand what is behind all your photos! (which are beautiful btw!) I love your imagination, wish I could dream about Nutella fountains too!! hehe
    The rosehip jam sounds so intriguing, I’d love to taste that. And all those cheeses look so tasty, I love cheese (need cheese + chocolate every day!)
    Your writing is seriously great, it’s always a pleasure to read your posts! You have a very friendly and entertaining way of writing which doesn’t make your blog “boring” or “heavy” to read!!
    On a final note, I should really be putting Turkey on top of my “countries to visit” list!

  6. 6 - Marona on April 28th, 2008

    Oh my! I would get up gladly so early only for visit that great market and have that great breakfast!
    I’m soooo jealous!!!!

  7. 7 - Lalla Mira on April 28th, 2008

    The colors are breath-taking!
    Thanks a lot for sharing.

  8. 8 - Dana on April 28th, 2008

    Beautiful photos! I was lucky to spend 24 hours in Istanbul last year and can’t wait to go back and spend more time exploring the markets.

  9. 9 - giz on April 28th, 2008

    You have captured one of my greatest loves – to visit the open air markets at the crack of dawn and be a visitor in my own city. The pictures are so wonderful and capture the true essence of the landscape and the people. Thank you for sharing such a great experience.

  10. 10 - Cynthia on April 28th, 2008

    Cenk, I enjoyed the trip you allowed me to accompany you on. Thank you. This was such a good read.

  11. 11 - megan on April 28th, 2008

    I love a good open air market. Thanks for taking me along!

  12. 12 - David on April 28th, 2008

    cenk: thanks for sharing the pictures of the market…and for sparing us pictures of your neighbors butt. the mental imagery alone was enough.

  13. 13 - The Mansion on April 28th, 2008

    Kardeş bir hayvan hakları koruyucusu olarak ipleri yok ettiğine sevindim derkene en sondaki resimde mevcutmu anlıyamadım ?????

  14. 14 - yvonne on April 28th, 2008


    Where exactly is this fabulous market? The only one I can think of is near the Tekel Bira fabrikasi! Lovely photos as always. I recently got into the habit of waking up at 5am to run, and then making a relaxing, full breakfast before heading off to work. Does wonders for the mind!

  15. 15 - Amie Gillingham on April 28th, 2008

    What amazing photos. I always leave your blog hungry for some reason. And what a pity that the nutella fountain was only a dream. THAT would be brilliant!

    There’s nothing like a trip to the local fresh air market and having a direct relationship with the people who produce your food. I love farmers markets for the same reason.

  16. 16 - Cenk on April 28th, 2008

    Amanda, Sara, Vida, Marona, Lalla Mira, Dana, giz, Cynthia, Megan – Glad you liked the photos! Many thanks for stopping by!

    Silvia – 4:30 is way too early for me as well. Ahh, the things I do for my blog… 🙂

    MariannaF – It is a good thing that you don’t see a Nutella fountain in your dream, even the dream itself is fattening! Thanks a lot for your lovely comment. Your words are very encouraging. I need to write posts like this more often.

    David – Thank God I didn’t see her that morning. It wouldn’t have fit into the frame anyways.

    The Mansion – Mevcut kardeş. Neyse o; yoksa bizde öyle photoshop numeroları.

    yvonne – So stupid of me not to put the address inside the post. Will do it as soon as I get an open address. Until then, here is a short explanation: Take the Kasımpaşa (or Okmeydanı depending on which direction you’re coming from) exit on E5 and follow Kasımpaşa signs all the way. You’ll see a Shell gas station after 10-15 minutes. Make a right turn right before the gas station and you’ll see the market on your left.

  17. 17 - amanda on April 29th, 2008

    What a wonderful post! I had so much fun reading it and adore the photos. It’s so interesting to see what’s going in other countries–and to know that beauty, be it in food, flowers, people, or places, is appreciated by one and all.

    I am a frequent visitor to your site and love your writing. I laughed out loud at the “dream” start to your day. It’s a good thing you mentioned it was in fact a dream…I was about ready to book a ticket.

    Thanks for sharing your life with the world.

    amanda (boston, ma, us)

  18. 18 - joey on April 29th, 2008

    Gorgeous, gorgeous market! I love the story you photos tell 🙂

  19. 19 - Margarita on April 29th, 2008

    Hi Cenk, thank you for the wonderful post!
    I am sitting here, at my desk, wondering whether I should just get into my car, drive to the airport, get on a plane and maybe make it to Istanbul just in time to go to the Kasımpaşa Kastamonu Food Market tomorrow morning… 🙂

  20. 20 - Esra on April 29th, 2008

    Cenk, look what are you doing to a pregnant woman ! 🙂 I am drooling:) oh my God I wish I could be in Istanbul and go to the Kasimpasa market now. I am waiting for the address though, I will tell my mom and dad so they can bring me some cheese and jam when they are coming:)

  21. 21 - christie on April 29th, 2008

    To have the passion to cook and take AMAZING photographs…well, I am impressed! I wish I had such a wonderful market to wake so early for. Consider yourself blessed.

  22. 22 - Warda on April 30th, 2008

    You’re a good son, Cenk!
    That’s the kind of posts I adore. Gorgeous! Continue to delight us with your culture and your beautiful Istambul.

  23. 23 - Laily on May 1st, 2008


    I enjoyed so much your visit to the market. I felt like I was right there! Loved your beautiful pics, as always.

    My favorite part was the fact that you also included your delicious dream in your timeline of your day.

    Always your fan…

  24. 24 - eni on May 1st, 2008

    aman Allahım blogunuza girmek ve bakmak bana gerçekten bir mutluluk ve huzur verir..harika renk seçimi.hele o lacivert tabak üzerindeki yumurtalar! müthiş gözünüz var!

  25. 25 - eni on May 1st, 2008

    blogunuza girmek ve fotolara bakmak bana her zaman mutluluk ve huzur verir.müthiş gözünüz var detaylar için!hele o lacivert tabak üzerinde sapsarı yumurtalara bittim.teşekkürler gözlerimize bayram ettirdiğiniz için:)

  26. 26 - Julie O'Hara on May 1st, 2008

    Thanks for the amazing photos! Turkey is one of the places I really want to visit in the next couple years, so I’m holding onto this info. I must go to the market.

  27. 27 - aforkfulofspaghetti on May 2nd, 2008

    What a great tour – and very evocative photos.

  28. 28 - Tamami on May 2nd, 2008

    beautiful pictures cenk! love your post – you totally had me with the nutella fountain story!

  29. 29 - Angela on May 3rd, 2008

    Hello Cenk,
    Greetings from Q8. So glad to have found your site, its great! I shd have found it sooner, like before summer last year… it would have helped with making the right food choices, when I visited Istanbul with my family. I looked forward to the food more than anything else but was dissappointed.. Not with the bread though! It was the best best bread butter feast we’ve ever had anywhere! My family was unanimous in their votes that Turks were the best bakers in the world.. the desserts were remarkable too!.
    And what stayed on was the absolutely fantastic bbq on Mount Uluday in Bursa. Thanks for sharing your site and recipes. Regards Angela

  30. 30 - Erin on May 4th, 2008

    Your images of the market are amazing! I feel like I’m there!

  31. 31 - Selim on May 5th, 2008

    Hi Cenk,

    Many thanks for this delicious post. I’ve been hearing about this marketplace from quite a bunch of fancy café owners, but I never got to hear a story and see some pix about it. Lovely!

    Here are the things: Is one really supposed to get there around 5:30 am? How about 7 or 8? Would you mind describing the exact location? Is it on the road that connects E5 to Kasimpasa?

  32. 32 - Cenk on May 5th, 2008

    Hi Selim – You need to be there at 5:30-6:00 if you don’t want to miss out on the good stuff, but 7:00 would also work. Coming from the Levent direction, you take the Kasımpaşa exit and the road takes you directly there. As soon as you see the Shell gas station, make a right before you pass it and you’ll see the market on your left. It is very close to the area where industrial kitchen supply stores are located.

  33. 33 - Hillary on May 5th, 2008

    Wow – thank you for the pictures! It’s so interesting to see what foods they offer. The picture of the spices and black olives really got me…yum!

  34. 34 - Vegeyum Ganga on May 5th, 2008

    This is the best market photo essay I have every seen. Fabulous photos. And kudos to you for getting up so early to bring it to us.

  35. 35 - pixen on May 5th, 2008

    oh my goshhhhh… Look at the spread !!! Ok, give me your address quick! I’m coming over… 😀

    Your trip to the market and photos brought back memories when I was a kid, following my mom to the fresh market @ wee hours to grab the best produce of the day. Along the way, we were greeted by the food sellers and mom would stopped to chat with them. Sometimes we were offered bowls of rice porridge or noodles or drinks by these sellers but my mom always insisted paying for it cos people need to survive she said … 🙂

    For me, early mornings at the fresh market is always welcome cos less crowd – you can see all the display arranged nicely and without being pushed around by bigger adults with a basket nearly missed your face or one of your foot being step on!

    BTW… the Nutella Fountain! Wonderful idea! It better be my favourite fındık Nutella…LOL. I don’t think it’s impossible. If Belgium can have Mannekin Pis oozing with beer why not a Nutella? Don’t forget there’s already the Chocolate Fountain available…

    This definitely a place to visit in my next trip! What a hidden treasure indeed! Thanks for sharing… İyi günler.

  36. 36 - Lynne on May 6th, 2008

    What a wonderful description of your visit to the market! Your photos make me feel I am there amongst the crowd of food shoppers.

  37. 37 - Kitchen Goddess on May 9th, 2008

    What a wonderful write up of your trip, I feel as if I were joining you right there. You’ve brought back some lovely memories of my trip to Turkey ; thank you 🙂

  38. 38 - inga on May 21st, 2008

    I love your blog! I stumbled upon it today, and I love the content as well as your photos! Gorgeous pictures of all the veggies and other goodies. I loved how you documented the entire trip. I felt like I was there. 🙂

  39. 39 - Jutta on May 22nd, 2008

    What a story! I love markets and your photos and description make me feel like strolling around with you. Thanks!

  40. 40 - Christie @ fig&cherry on June 12th, 2008

    You are hilarious! I love the description of your neighbour! Fantastic blog you have here, great writing and photos too. Bookmarked 🙂

  41. 41 - Bev on July 2nd, 2008

    Hello Cent!,
    While dreaming about being able to make the perfect bagel, I found this heavenly place. I am absolutely overjoyed!!! to find your amazing, fabulously done website tonite ~ thanks!!!. I am amazed and delighted that you share everything!…your experience with cooking, baking, eating, perfect photos, great recipes, shopping, etc. (I love Turkish music too and now I know why). You are a wonderful man!!!

  42. 42 - Kamil Pasha » Kastamonu Food Market on September 11th, 2008

    […] This post about the Kastamonu Food Market in the Kasimpasa district of Istanbul was on the wonderful, luscious “Cafe Fernando Istanbul” food blog in April, but it has stuck in my mind. It’s a narrative of the author’s rising from sleep, getting his car unblocked, finding the market, and then shopping, talking to the farmers selling their bread, cheese, vegetables, and other delicious and interesting foods. The photos are fabulous. Here’s the link. […]

  43. 43 - Duygu on September 11th, 2008

    I cannot explain how homesick I feel right now 🙁

    (a Turkish student in the USA)

  44. 44 - Andrea on September 30th, 2008

    Lovely photos! I visited Istanbul many years ago, just for a few days. While I managed to see the big attractions, I missed out on the local markets. I would have really enjoyed this. Thanks for sharing the photos.

  45. 45 - mrv on November 17th, 2008

    these photos make me feel homesick..

  46. 46 - John on November 26th, 2008

    Where do I find a dolma rolling machine???PLEASE??

  47. 47 - Global Patriot on April 9th, 2009

    What a beautiful market, the visuals are stunning! I could spend years traveling the world just to visit the local markets, with the freshest products that change throughout the season.

  48. 48 - brownriver on May 10th, 2009

    i don’t drive, so can’t quite figure out your instructions. do you have a street name? I only know of the tarlabasi market off of Omer Hayam Cd. I assume they’re different, but kasi8mpasa is nearby… Thanks!

  49. 49 - Cenk on May 20th, 2009

    brownriver – I checked to see if I can find the location on Google Maps, but it doesn’t show the Shell gas station. This market is very close to the industrial kitchen supply stores on Bahriye Street, which is somewhat close to Omer Hayyam Street. There should be a Shell gas station at the end of Bahriye Street. This market is just behind the gas station. Hope this helps.

  50. 50 - Turkish food enthusiast | Topics of the world on September 26th, 2009

    […] further to admire the fresh food at the early morning Kastamonu food market in Istanbul, or try this unusual recipe for pomegranate […]

  51. 51 - Food Market Reports on November 19th, 2009

    These are very nice pictures. Thank you for sharing.

  52. 52 - Gulum on December 21st, 2009

    Harika bir yere benziyor burası. Bende gitmek istiyorum. Bide cenk ben su no bake cheesecake’i yapabilir miyim sence? Yoksa elime yüzüme bulaştırır mıyım?


  53. 53 - Cenk on December 21st, 2009

    Gülümsün – Mutfaktaki deneyimin hakkında en ufak bir fikrim yok ama benmariye (altta hafif fokurduyan su dolu bir tencereye daha büyük tabanlı ısıya dayanıklı bir kap oturtup alttan gelen buharla pişirme yöntemi – üstteki kap alttaki suya değmeyecek) yabancı değilsen bence yaparsın, daha basit bir tarif istersen de şunu tavsiye ederim. Bir de bu yazılardan sonra keşfettiğim bir peynir var, krem peynir yerine onu kullanırsan süzmeye de gerek kalmıyor. Trakya Çiftliği marka Mascarpone peyniri. Migros, Makro her yerde var. Afiyet olsun!!

  54. 54 - Chris Edwards on December 28th, 2009

    I’ll be in Ist. the first week of January. Will anything be happening at this food market during that time?

  55. 55 - Cenk on December 28th, 2009

    Chris – I absolutely have no idea. This is an independent group of people, who supposedly set up their stands “every week”, but there’s no way to tell.

  56. 56 - yasemin on August 6th, 2010

    Merhaba…Ben Türkiye nin Aydın Kuşadası ilçesinde yaşıyorum…Size ve yorumda bulunan herkese ülkem için yazdıkları mesajlara teşekkürler…Bizim pazarlarımız gerçekten çok renklidir aynı sizin fotoğraflarınız gibi…Hepinizi bekleriz…Sevgiler…

  57. 57 - esra on November 24th, 2010

    Hi, I want to determine that I am proud to be from Gastamonu..When I read your post I really enjoy it and miss my hometown’s foods.they’re really fresh and delicious.Thank you for showing and attention..

  58. 58 - Dilsat Baysal on February 8th, 2011

    I love your blog. I find it very successful and love the pictures you have been posting. Good luck!

  59. 59 - Ilke on April 11th, 2011

    I am about to cry now with all the farmer’s market memories! Thanks for the great trip back in time for me!

  60. 60 - Lora Brody on September 22nd, 2011

    We arrive in Istanbul tomorrow – fork and knife in hand!

  61. 61 - Mrs Ergül on October 4th, 2011

    While I’m reading on and on about the place to go and food to eat in Turkey on your blog, I have this secret fear that I will go to Turkey and don’t ever wanna come back home thereafter….

  62. 62 - Julia on March 11th, 2012

    We always hunt out markets when we visit somewhere new. I loved this post on Kastamonou market. Next time we’re in Istabnul, I’d love to do what you did and just walk around taking photos. Of course, the hardest job would be waking up early enough to do so! 🙂

  63. 63 - Amy on May 20th, 2012

    I have been living in Istanbul over the past year, and have visited this market several times, thanks to this incredible story you’ve written. It has been such a gift to me…so, thank you!

    I wanted to add an alternative transportation option: you can take the “Golden Horn cruise” offered by the city’s ferry service (Sehir Hatlari). It begins at Uskudar (on the Asian/Anatolian side of the city) and runs all the way to Eyup, making stops along the way, including Eminonu. Disembark at Kasimpasa (the third stop); from there, it is approximately a 15-minute walk to the market. Walk directly north through the small park in front of the ferry dock and turn left on Havuz Capasi Cd. Walk a couple blocks, then turn right on Bulent Demir Cd., which will take you all the way to the market. (The name of the street changes, but it will take you there!) Along the way, you will pass the Buyuk Hamam and the Kasimpasa Camii.

    Note: as of this writing, on Sundays the first ferry leaves Uskudar at 10:30am, which means you won’t reach Kasimpasa until 10:55am — rather late for this market. However, it was still operating at 1pm when we visited, though it was somewhat cleaned out. (One reason we arrived on the late side is because we enjoyed a lovely breakfast at the Kasimpasa Sosyal Tesis adjacent to the ferry dock: a Turkish breakfast plate and unlimited tea, with a water view, is only 11 TL per person.)

  64. 64 - Cenk on May 22nd, 2012

    Amy – And thank you for the amazing suggestion. This will be very helpful for the readers.

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