After a somewhat disappointing first night out, we tried a new neighborhood. It didn’t take long to discover the Beyoğlu district just across the Golden Horn. This area around Taksim Square is packed day and night with locals, tourists and expats all looking for a good time. With countless rooftop bars and basement clubs lining Istiklal Avenue, it was not surprising that we opted to return here and explore night after night. Here are a few of my highlights:
Araf: The main feature of this club is the band that plays live music all night, every night of the week. The genre of music is difficult to categorize. I would call it Turkish folk/bluegrass with a danceable edge. Whatever it was, it had all kinds of people up and dancing. I managed to set a bar stool in the middle of the floor and participate. This place is popular with foreigners, mostly because it was written up in Lonely Planet. I had great conversations with one guy from Scotland and another from San Francisco, as well a girl from Hungary. Drinks were a bit overpriced, but well worth it for great free musical entertainment.
Baba Ali: Right off Istiklal, this bar offers a generally more relaxed setting. We enjoyed their rooftop terrace over cheap half-litres of Efes (the Turkish beer). It had great views of the city from the roof as well as views onto other bars in the neighborhood to scope out a bit. Probably a good spot to start out the night before heading somewhere more high-energy.
Club Zarife: This was a more traditional European style club. Blasting Turkish house and trance music along with lazer lights cutting through the smokey haze. The crowd consisted mainly of young, urban Turks. It was easy to tell because everyone would sing along to the lyrics of Turkish songs, but when “Party Rock Anthem” came on, it was only us Americans belting it out.
*Disclaimer: This blog would never advocate the consumption of alcohol by minors and believes that underage drinking is morally akin to slavery and communism and should be punishable by death.