Ready to travel with me to Istanbul, Turkey? First, you may want to brush up on the history of the city which is quite fascinating because everything that you see below won't make much of an impact unless you do. This is the case for me anyway, just knowing something about the patterns, colors, architecture, people, history -- it makes everything really come together and gives greater meaning...
Having some knowledge of textiles is also helpful when you visit a city like Istanbul -- personally as I visited various shops I felt that even my limited knowledge came in super helpful. If there is any travel tip I can give you that I could call the greatest travel tip of all it is to either learn about the history of a city, it's people, it's crafts, etc. before landing on new shores or immediately hire a recommended guide and let them educate you when you arrive or else you can really lose the essence and for me, there is just no point in leaving your homeland to simply fly somewhere to shop and eat and leave with bags full of pretty stuff that you have no real clue about. I know, I've done this before! Learning about the culture makes even the food and the shopping better, there is this foundation laid for then layering your experiences -- the foundation is undeniably the most important to have in my opinion.
So let me begin by showing you some beautiful imagery and then I'll pull together another post tomorrow taking you to some gorgeous shops, at least a few, so you can see a few places that really inspired me (and emptied my wallet!)...
I was really intrigued by these Ottoman-style miniature paintings, they are painted onto vintage book pages, and were quite colorful and beautiful. I bought a few of them, I'll show you maybe tomorrow. I'd love for you to see them. I also found some gorgeous shops loaded with sumptuous Turkish towels for the bath, hands, kitchen, every shape and texture and pattern... Gorgeous Suzani pillows were in many shops and quite inexpensive when compared to the prices you'd find them selling for in Europe or America. I bought two pillows and they're quite lovely, mine were made from vintage Uzbekistan Suzani textiles and quite gorgeous. If you like them, you can see more here and also buy them online at this shop.
These bowls are from my personal collection, I've had them for awhile but I wanted to show them to you again in the photo above since they are quite pretty and you can find them everywhere in Istanbul.
I was fortunate in that I did do some light research before I left but I also have a friend who is Turkish, her name is Esra Celik, and she was kind enough to plan our adventure so that I was able to see some landmarks but also discover some of the nooks that I longed to find along the way. Having a friend to guide you certainly is a luxury because they not only know your taste well enough to take you to places that you'll actually like, but they are fun to simply be with! Plus, Esra speaks fluent Turkish so whenever we ran into a language barrier, she started speaking Turkish and everything was fine. Plus, she's just so sweet and cute and very, very generous and open-minded -- the best things you could desire in a travel partner. It was a great time!
Here are some more impressions from Istanbul -- of course these are just snippets so if you want to see full size images and more impressions feel free to visit this folder on Flickr that I've set up specifically to share with you. I hope that you enjoy it!
Lots of the photos above where taken in the Sultanahmet (Hippodrome) district of the city, the historical area where the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque are located -- and where we also happened to stay. In fact, the roof dining area of our hotel overlooked the Blue Mosque - it was such a pretty view of the mosque and the sea with fresh salty air, seagulls, and gorgeous fog in the morning over the city (and late at night) which I loved so much... The room shots above were taken in the gorgeous Topkapi Palace - an Istanbul "must see" attraction. Sadly, the palace kitchens were closed for renovations so we missed them but we saw the rest of the palace, including the Harem, and it was just lovely.
I hope you enjoyed these tiny glimpses into my vacation. Tomorrow I'll share with you more lovely images and some fantastic shops that you simply must visit while in this gorgeous city by the sea.
(images: holly becker for decor8)