August 21, 2017


My heart always lifts on approach to the Istanbul. I can already smell the bustling streets: the fragrant roasted chestnuts.. coffee.. the sesame, poppy seed semit.. the sweet honey fragrance of the backlava and vast varieties of sweet and savoury pastries!! Yum !...such a heady mix of scents that my nose and heart know so well... Sadly. i am gluten free these days but to just smell those pastries is ALMOST enough

It had been 12 months since our last visit and our first stop was the hotel.. a humble little boutique Hotel, just off the main shopping street of Istikal Caddessi. We chose it because we have grown to love this part of the city.. I love the call of the street vendors as they push their cars down our narrow street, the sight of the older men gathered in the doorways of small shops and cafes sipping their coffee.. and the footsteps of so many people going about their business down below our window.  On that point Istanbul is open for business people; prior to our arrival we had heard so much about the risks of travelling to Turkey... and their is little doubt the negative publicity is affecting the number of tourists visiting Istanbul. Nevertheless we always felt safe and  it was sad to see the toll this was having on some businesses with which we were familiar, and the Grand Bazaar was the quietest we had ever seen it.. But this too will change..  the local people know this and go about their business accordingly, doing the best they can until the winds blow once more in their favour. 

Back to the food!... it's amazing! We love the local Turkish diners.. look for the ones packed with locals choosing from an array of savoury dishes, eggplant, okra, beans, lamb, chicken.. dolmatas. They are generally very well priced and the flavours are out of this world. As usual we spent alot of time at the Grand Bazaar.. sipping glasses of tea and treasure hunting...trawling through a multitude of small shops, engaging with the vendors  (drinking more tea as is custom ) and feeling very very inspired.. The grand Bazaar has to be seen to be believed.. established in the mid 15th century it has grown to include 61 covered streets and over 4,000 shops... it is actually quite overwhelming and it is easy to lose oneself in the maze of corridors and passageways. Around the Grand Bazaar is the old Sultanahmet area; whilst there you should defintiely visit the Blue Mosque, the Aya Sofia and of course the Topkapi palace. This time was our first visit to the Basilica Cistern; a cathedral sized cistern built by the in the 4th Century to store water for what was then a growing Roman metropolis... the beauty and majesty of what was essentially a utility speaks to the majesty of the vast Roman empire. It has to be seen to be appreciated! We only had a few days this time but met a lovely vendor and found some exciting inspiration that will find its way into a new range to be launched early next year :)))