Business trip: Istanbul
Off the clock
The Turkish say that the quieter, greener Asian side is for living and the European side is for partying and business. To kick back, head across the intercontinental Bosphorus Bridge to the Asian side and step into the lovely Kuzguncuk district on your way to Kadikoy Market on Muvakkithane Street. In this neighbourhood, you can see three major religions coexisting. The small Kuzguncuk Mosque, located near the Kuzguncuk boat pier, was built in the 1950s in the courtyard of the Armenian Church Surp Krikor Lusavoric, and they share a wall. Next door is the Bet Yaakov Synagogue. Once at Kadikoy Market, stroll through the stalls of fresh produce, flowers and fish on your way to the three Ciya eateries, located within a stone's throw of each other. The staff may not speak excellent English, but simply point to what you want and they will weigh it and deliver to your table. Gorge on stuffed meat pides and grilled kofte (meatballs) kebabs paired with delicious and fresh salads and marinated vegetables. This is a prime spot for locals and tourists to naturally intermingle, enjoying delicious Eastern Anatolian cuisine.
Like a local
Soaking in a Turkish bath is a tradition of cleanliness, healing, entertainment and social sharing that has been around for thousands of years. One of the most modern is the Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hammam, decked out in marble from floor to ceiling in the shadows of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia. This historical bath has served sultans and noble elite, and now offers the purifying power of water to modern-day bathers in a unique and mystical atmosphere. The ritual begins with an attendant exfoliating your skin with a loofah and washing you squeaky clean. Then comes a bubble-soaked massage while lying on hot marble stones underneath a magnificently arched Ottoman ceiling. Follow that by a soak in the steam room and a cup of scented hot tea, and you will walk out feeling a century younger.
Afterward, head to Mado, the legendary Turkish cafe chain that has dozens of locations all over town and serves decadent pastries and the traditional Anatolian ice cream, maras, famous for its gummy, chewy texture of goat milk and orchid leaves. Opt for the sliced ice cream, which is best enjoyed with a knife and fork due to its tough, chewy texture.
Don’t do this
Turkey is a conservative Muslim country, but Istanbul is surprisingly progressive with people dressing as they wish. Still, visitors should use good judgment when conducting business. Err on the side of conservative clothing especially if meeting in public, and men should wait for a female counterpart to extend her hand in greeting. It is fairly easy to determine if a client prefers a more conservative stance based on their dress, and most Turkish business people are used to working with people from other cultures. When visiting someone’s home, look to see if others have removed their shoes. If so, leave them by the door.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly described the Hagia Sofia as an Ottoman-style church This has been fixed.