It is one of those lovely Sundays in Istanbul. It is spring time. This time, I am going to Acibadem, a residential district on the Asian side of Istanbul. I am visiting friends. I got myself invited for breakfast. After feasting on every single morsel of delicious Turkish breakfast, my friends take me to Cengelkoy, a seaside district in existence since the 5th century. We walk into a little street that opens up a very old tea house right on the Bosphorus. You can touch the water if you reach down. I see this big tree. Really big tree. It has one limb that is supported with concrete columns. And it keeps growing. The limb itself is thicker than many trees I have seen. The sign says it was planted in the year 1220 AD. That was even 233 years before Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror took Istanbul from Byzantine. Boy, this tree must have seen a lot.
The tea house is called Cinaralti, literally translated to “underneath the plane tree.” Cengelkoy is famous for this tea house. This giant plane tree provides a shade that no canopy or giant sun umbrellas can provide. You feel the old and the new Bosphorus life right here. Here, babies to elderly, all enjoy the shade, drinking Turkish tea or coffee and having their breakfast while watching the ferries zigzagging Bosphorus or the giant ships gliding into the Black Sea or into the Marmara Sea.
You are free to bring any kind of food you desire, but no drinks. There are traditional borek shops (Delightful Turkish pastry filled with cheese or beef) and patisseries with delicate pastries and cakes right around the corner. We sit and enjoy our tea and eat baklava. Nothing beats a good company and a good view with the sound of the waves crushing, boats tooting, and seagulls screaming. Yet another beautiful day in Istanbul passes at its own soft speed.