The Pudding Shop – This Istanbul Restaurant Was Once the Start of the Hippie Trail:
Just opposite from the Blue Mosque is the famous Pudding Shop, a nickname for the Lale Restaurant. Started in 1957 by the Colpan brothers, Idris and Namik, the Pudding Shop became famous in the 1970s as the meeting place and message centre for young travellers seeking adventure in the East. They came to the Pudding Shop to link up with other travellers, share experiences, expenses or to hitch a ride for their onward journey. The Pudding Shop became famous as the starting point of the ‘Hippie Trail‘ East.
The Start of the Hippie Trail
According to Idris Colpan, the ‘pilgrims’ travelling East would stop at his restaurant to meet new acquaintances or find other travellers to share their journey, often driving old cars or Volkswagen vans.
During the early days, the Pudding Shop was the only place where travellers could easily find information about transport to Asia. Realizing the de facto role that the Pudding Shop played as an information hub, Idris and his brother put up a bulletin board where messages could be left by people offering or requiring rides to the Far East or back to Europe. The Pudding Shop became the starting point of the ‘hippie trail’ for the many young Americans and Europeans on their eastern adventure.
The Pudding Shop Today
Today, the Pudding Shop is still run by the Colpan family but gone are the romantic days when travellers sought adventures on the traditional route East. The notice board is still there as a nostalgic reminder of the Pudding Shop’s involvement in the hippie period, but the Pudding Shop has become an upmarket eatery rather than a springboard for an Eastern adventure.
There is a smart service area where traditional Turkish cuisineare displayed. Around the walls of the restaurant are pictures of some the young hippies who hung out at the Pudding Shop. The restaurant now attract tourists who come to explore the attractions around the Sultan Ahmet area.
We’ve stopped at the Pudding Shop twice in the two days that we were in the Sultanahmet area to get our coffee fix and also to enjoy some traditional Turkish food. The Pudding Shop brought back lots of memories for Tony, as he too had drifted through here in the late-1970s, and he was able to reminisce about his experience with Adem Colpan who now manages the restaurant. Namik was in the restaurant during our visit and he proudly showed us the picture of himself with the President of Turkey. He also showed us a brochure of the Blue House, a nice hotel that they own at the back of the Pudding Shop. It certainly is very conveniently located to the main attractions in the Sultanahmet area and worth trying next time we’re here.
The Pudding Shop
Sultanahmet Divanyolu No. 6