In Hong Kong this would be an opium den.

Posted by on May 20, 2013

I’m a big fan of lazy from time to time, especially when I can incorporate a bit of culture into the equation and call it ‘part of traveling’. (See my occasional predilection towards gluttony, for reference).


All smiles at the Nargile cafe.

The nargile cafes of Istanbul, then, satisfy a very smoky and dark part of my personality.


Tea service.

After all they have tea, board games, and hookah pipes. What else does a man need on a rainy evening in Istanbul?


Re-learning the rules of backgammon.

As Mahsum (the guide from my dinner tour in Istanbul) instructed us on the finer parts of backgammon, the smells of apple shisha and taste of rose-hip tea circulated through the place like the very air of life itself.


The college-hookah story definitely came up. It makes for quick ends to a lull in the conversation!

Of course, we did what we could to contribute this this aromatic atmosphere.

I’m pretty sure these beautiful little cafes are quickly becoming my collectively-favorite part of Istanbul.


Though these cafes are all over Istanbul and easy to find, I actually visited the one pictured here while on a photography assignment for GetYourGuide at the end of a Istanbul Dinner with Local Family tour that I can highly recommend.

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2 Responses to In Hong Kong this would be an opium den.

  1. Amber

    I was in Istanbul a couple years ago in November, it was colder than anticipated, and rainy. We spent a couple of nights in an outdoor cafe with the hookah, a heat lamp, some comfy pillows, and a friendly house cat. I loved being lazy and just lounging around. We also found someplace similar, in the basement of a bar, which led to an afternoon of hookah, red wine, and lounging in a cistern, of course strewn on comfy pillows again. Thanks for bringing these lazy memories back!

    • Stephen

      Hey Amber, agreed, these cafes make those dreary days in Istanbul so worthwhile. I’m intrigued about that cistern/bar/lounge, you still remember where it was or how to get there?

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