Tag: turkey


Grand Bazaar and Spice Market

If you are at all into shopping, then the Grand Bazaar will be right up your street…literally. It has been said that one can lose days in this maze that is perhaps another one of Istanbul’s most recognisable sights. It seems that almost anything you require can be found here and the shopkeepers will do almost anything to appease you into purchasing from them and not their nearest competitor. From glass tea sets, to brightly coloured lanterns (a must have to add colour and sparkle to your home!) and from Turkish delight, to fake designer handbags, your wish is their command to these genies of Istanbul’s very own Aladdin’s cave. I finally tracked down the perfect rose gold crescent moon necklace here, which had the shop owner running back and forth all over the Bazaar (I kid you not!). It would appear if they don’t have it, they will simply go out and get it for you – I like their entrepreneurial spirit!

Try your hand at bartering, or simply browse the streets – this is an experience that is essential to experience quintessential Istanbul.

Discover more about the Grand Bazaar & Spice Market

Grand Baz

Go underground to the Basilica Cistern

They say that whenever you visit a new city you should look up. For it is when we look up, that we truly see. We see the beauty of the buildings surrounding us, and we see the love that goes into creating every city that many, many tourists (and even residents) miss. Whilst the same is true of Istanbul, one of it’s more surprising beauties, is actually underground. In fact, it wasn’t really meant to be seen at all. Commissioned by Justinianus I, the Byzantium Emperor, (the part of my mind that loves old school history is now in overdrive!) this surprising discovery was constructed as an underground water reservoir. Yes, you read that right – this vast underground space, which will frankly take your breath away, was never actually meant to be seen… now if that isn’t dedication to beauty and ascetics I don’t know what is! One of the few benefits of the snow was that many people had not ventured out that day, so the Cistern was very quiet and warm – go figure! A visit while the crowds are away comes highly recommended, not only for the obvious reasons of not being able to see anything and the potential hazard of being pushed into the water, but so you can really get a sense of how vast this underground chamber is. There is a certain stillness that can be found there which is almost therapeutic, and after 2 days of freezing my little butt off, I was in need of some therapy! (I say again – Claire, I am NEVER listening to your weather predictions again!)

Whether you are a history, science or art geek, there is something here for everyone to admire and be astonished by. If your approach to life is a little more hedonistic, simply watch the fish swim by and imagine what an awesome party you could host down there… those ACOUSTICS!

Discover the Basilica Cistern here.


Dinner with a View – The PerDerPey Restaurant at the Richmond hotel

I have yet to meet a person who does not love an incredible view over a landscape, be it the countryside, a seascape, or a cosmopolitan city. Now, if you can combine said view with amazing food, then I am quite possibly the happiest girl in the world. On the terrace of the Hotel Richmond lies the PerDerPay restaurant which overlooks the peninsula of Istanbul. For me, it has the perfect view. You can look out onto the water to see ships of all shapes gliding silently through the water, while across the water the modern buildings of ‘new’ Istanbul form the perfect opposite to the beautiful ancient mosques which are so synonymous with the city. The food is excellent, specialises in Ottoman cuisine and presents menus which are updated and changed regularly. The staff are super helpful and will accommodate your requests… even if this means taking endless photos of you standing with the whole of Istanbul at your feet.

Book your table here.


Hotel Richmond viewJourney to Paris

The special place that is Paris has in my heart is always with me. From the wild times of Las Vegas, to the still waters of the Maldives, no one in my book does it quite like Paris. Imagine my amazement (read total delight!) to find a tiny Parisian style tearoom tucked in the corner of one of the most glamorous hotels in Istanbul. In case you hadn’t already realised, the Pera Palace became our go to comfort blanket when we were in need of a little warmth with an added dash of luxury. Please note, when I go on holiday I like to fully get involved in the local culture, but sometimes, the familiar is just want is required.

After a particularly long, and cold day (yes, there were many of these!) Claire and I decided to venture in for cake on our way ‘home’. The dusky pink interior (my new favourite colour) welcomed us in,  and despite our very bedraggled appearance, we were shown to a table by a very sweet girl. The choice of cake was vast ranging from Parisian macarons to cupcakes with a twist.

If you are in search of an luxurious heaven, then this is quite possibly it. Attention to detail is displayed in everything that they do. Even the uniforms of the staff  (Pink in case you couldn’t guess!) were pressed pristinely. This was topped off with a black fascinator for a touch of style and eccentricity – too cool!  The vast chandeliers, the marble floors, the beautiful cakes all lead you to the conclusion, that if you like elegant things, you have well and truly come home.

This little slice of heaven is Patisseries de Pera



Many people reflect on that fact that the world is such a vast place, and it is! 510,072,000 km² to be precise! It in fact seems so huge, that people state that there also seems so little time in which to see it. I would in turn,  say this to them. If you have a hunger to seek out the world, do just that… little by little. Look to what has been left by the past for inspiration and to see what great things can be achieved. Istanbul is a fabulous place to be reminded of this. We can learn lessons from Empires now consigned to the history books, yet they still live on through the buildings and culture that remain today. Our predecessors that have gone before us have left us a message, and if you listen closely you may just hear it. Start today, and build your tomorrow. The Topkapı Palace in Istanbul took 14 years to build, but this did not dissuade it’s creators from starting… this time is now.

Love Always,


International Adventures


When my favourite, Claire suggested we make a spontaneous trip to Istanbul, I was pretty excited (I do love an overseas adventure!). ‘It will be 12 degrees and sunny’ she said… Well, lets just say, her prediction was a little out (love you lady, but you/Google were wrong!), so wrong in fact, even the Turks were surprised. But we dug deep into our intrepid British spirit, stuffed on enough clothes to make Sir Ranulph Fiennes proud, and set about exploring the wonderful city. Here’s the first instalment of highlights from the trip, and my recommendations for adventure.

Cocktails at the Pera Palace Hotel

This luxury hotel is absolutely teeming with history, you can literally breathe it in as you cross the threshold. The Pera Palace has played host to some of the heavyweights of literature, including Ernest Hemingway and Agatha Christie. Although the property is now managed by the Jumeirah hotel empire, it has retained it’s individuality as opposed to becoming another faceless hotel.

The vast lobby is the perfect place to sit and have a cocktail, while soaking up the glamour of times past. Or, as this means for Claire and I, embarking on one for our random conversations, featuring topics such as ‘what did Jesus actually look like’, and ‘the concept of family in the Fast & Furious films’, seriously, we have the BEST conversations. A special shout out must be given to the Palace’s amazing cocktails that are brewed in a silver teapot and served in a beautiful teacup – divine!

Pera Palace


Visit The Blue Mosque

Arguably the most famous landmark in Istanbul, and quite rightly so. I have been fortunate to travel to many places in the world, but the Blue Mosque, or to refer to it by it’s correct title, the Sultan Ahmed Camii, is truly breath-taking. It’s beauty is not just confined to the outside. Once inside, it is impossible not to be amazed not only by the building, but by the devotion and reverence of the worshippers. Find a quiet corner (not easy at certain times, I grant you!), sit against a pillar, and just be present.

Prayer occurs at the Mosque 5 times a day, so make sure you time your visit around these as the Mosque is closed to the public at these times. If however, you manage to arrive precisely when you aren’t supposed to (as we did!), I thoroughly recommend attending one of the presentations that are run by the Mosque Maintenance Association.

Our talk was led by Elif Zeynep Yilmaz, who is the first female guide in the Mosque’s history (TOTAL kudos to her for being such a pioneer), who explained not only the about the building so many come to visit, but also about the philosophy of Islam. In my book, every religion would do well to take note of the work that is being done here by the guides.  The environment was warm and welcoming and as well as providing weary guests with refreshments, an open floor was given to address any questions they may have. Oh yes, and did I mention that this was all totally FREE. It was a place where preconceptions could be addressed, and evidence of a ‘living’ faith could be seen being worked into modern life.

Blue mosque


Baklava at The Kybele Hotel

OK, so I’m not going to lie, this was one of those chance discoveries (my favourite!) that was dictated by circumstances. Just to set the scene, we had been out in temperatures of -8 degrees most of the day, in snow storms that where more akin to scenes from disaster film ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ as opposed to ‘White Christmas’, so let’s just say, we were a little cold and wet. Oh and did I mention that it had just started to thunder too… Yes, it can thunder and snow at the same time apparently, in fact this phenomenon had many meteorologists very excited that day! So, after walking around in the snow all day, broken up with intervals of stopping to record videos of us, (OK, Claire, me) singing ‘Do you wanna build a snowman..’ we decided it was time to head in doors.

Anyone who follows me on Pinterest knows how much I love a neon sign, and to be honest this was the initial attraction which led to discovering this little gem! Once inside, the riot of colour continued, with the ceiling covered in the most beautiful Turkish lamps. The hotel was so warm and cosy, it is just like sitting in someone’s front room.  Especially as the staff were so lovely and welcoming. This hotel is not to be missed.

Kyele Hotel


Order the best chocolate in Istanbul, and tuck into the Baklava. Take a moment to enjoy the renowned Turkish hospitality. Oh, and did I mention it’s just around the corner from the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia – perfect way to end the day!

Coming next… going underground, and visiting Paris… in Istanbul.

Love always,



P.S. Big love to my photographer of choice, Claire xxx

International Adventures