Monday 23 April 2012
heather & L
What a treat it was to finally get a chance to meet a blogger friend of mine, Heather and her husband, William in Istanbul. Here's Heather and Lil L practicing mouth acrobatics. The 3 of them got on like a house on fire. Lil L came back to the UK announcing that from now onwards, she will have to eat more peppery rocket leaves because Uncle William advised her ALL princesses eat them. We were taken to local haunts where few tourists ever ventured. It was wonderful to see another perspective of Istanbul outside of the touristy Sultanahmet area.

I was here last year with my brother and his family. It was an eye opening experience where everything looked so exotic including the people who are the result of interbreeding between cultures (European and Eastern) for hundreds and hundreds of years. Gorgeous! What fascinated me was the women if I may be frank. On one hand, you still have women in burkhas and hidden from sight and on the other, the new generation of independent women.

fish sandwich
Fish sandwich boats aka kitchen

Spice market

We checked out the Spice Market. All the locals shop outside the market while the tourists congregated inside and paid exorbitant prices for the same thing. It's funny how the price increased exponentially just 10 steps away.

near bridge
I consider Istanbul to be the European version of Shanghai. It's chaotic, disorganized, aggressive, and industrious. There's the endless sea of new high rise buildings interspersed with the old Byzantine architecture. I used to think Italian taxi drivers are the devil's spawn until I got into a taxi in Istanbul. I was car sick everyday and ended up popping vertigo pills to combat nausea. These tiny little cobblestone lanes were originally meant for a single horse and carriage to go through but these days, cars from opposite directions try to squeeze past narrowly missing the pedestrians (oh yes, more often that not, there isn't always a dedicated sidewalk).

I don't know how one can ever go hungry here. Hawkers peddle their wares (aka food) in every corner.



I've always loved pottering around the Galata area where there are many unique and contemporary shops. Surprisingly, most tourists cross the Galata bridge, pop into the tower and disappear back into Sultanahmet. What a shame. We stumbled upon Old Sandal, a store selling exquisite handmade shoes for ridiculously low prices (think £65 for a pair of flats). While we were there, a stunning and beautifully dressed Turkish lady walked in and bought a few pairs of shoes. She told me that there were far better value for money and just as well made as her Repettos. I agree.

turkish meal4
turkish meal5
lunch meal6
turkish meal8

The Turkish diet is meat based, something I'm not very used to. Their fish is insanely fresh and good. Thanks to Heather, we were VERY well fed.


A HUGE thank U to Heather and William for their generosity and warm hospitality! You've made the trip extra special. Thank U to all of you for reading!


  1. Wow once again amazing pics! I totally agree with you about the crazy taxi drivers! I went there in the Summer of 2010 and it was amazing! However I thought Turkey was quiet westernised and not as exotic as I had hoped. The food was amazing, I love my meat so it worked out well for me lol! Lil L is too cute!

  2. You know how much I love Istanbul! Can't wait to return... I wish I could live in this amazing city, imho the most beautiful of all the places I have ever visited!
    Galata is my favorite neighborhood, the views from the slope is amazing.
    ah the food... Now I'm hungry.

    Amazing pictures!!! I will never tire of saying it!


  3. i´ve never been to istanbul and i never wanted to go, if i had to choose between london, rome or instanbul i would never choose istanbul. but your pictures are so beautiful and interesting and just different that maybe i have to think again.
    your pictures are great, you´re an amazing photographer, big love!
    xx doro

  4. Lovely post with amazing pics, as usual. *hearts*


  5. I`ve been to Istanbul only once for 2 nights. It was a really interesting city and I can tell that you found out about that, too. I think it`s one of those cities that "capture all senses" because there are so many impressions you can make and take.
    I love your pictures, again!

  6. really enjoying your pictures so far, especially #2 - how amazing is the light? glad you're having an awesome time!

  7. What a fun city to explore. Somehow Turkey is never on my map but it is such a beautiful country and people. So jealous of your little L, she gets to see and experience the world travels at young age, wish we can provide more of that experience to our little one. Living in the US is kind of far from Europe and Asia, thus requires a lot more money to travel. Perhaps we can start around Canada and South America first.

    One of the countries which i think is truly exotic must be Bhutan, would love to visit one day in my lifetime.

  8. Lil L is sooo cute! Beautiful photos and the food looks amazing!

  9. I don't know what I love more! The colors, food or little L!!!?

  10. It looks like you enjoyed much better weather after I left :)) Love the city through your (photographic) eyes and I can't stress how much I love our blogs for enabling us to meet! BIG HUGSSSS!!!!! And again, no thanks needed at all - you three felt like family! William (the flirt) gives a big kiss to little L. And then I hug her tightly. xoxo

  11. Ah I'd so much love to go to Istanbul. for me it's all tied up with the orient express and 1930s glamour. I'm sure it's nothing like that though really.

    Love those whirling dervish dolls, really cute!

  12. I love how blogging introduces one to tons of people all over the world - too cool that you got a chance to meet Heather and her family! And once again, your photos are out of this world! Amazingly gorgeous!!!!


    The Habit

  13. Love the pictures ---those food shots! L is growing up so quickly, huh?

  14. Your photos are amazing! They could be in National Geographic magazine. Love your travel stories.

  15. What an amazing city and made that much special by meeting your friends. Little L looks adorable as always (please say hi to her for me).

    I swear you could become a travel photograher/journalist with your expertise behind the camera and knowledge...

    xx Mandi

  16. Thank you, THANK YOU and thank you again for the wonderful comments that you've all left. I've read and re-read them many many times. Thank you for the encouragement and support.

  17. Oh my gosh!! LOVE those pictures and your description of Istanbul! I hope you got a pair of flats if they had your size! And LOVE that last pic of Lil L!! So cute! :)

    xo, sam

    1. I should be so lucky! The lovely Turkish lady inquired on my behalf if the cobbler was able to make a pair in size 34 but the smallest they go down to is a 36.

  18. Beautiful photos and Little L is so adorable especially in the last photo :)
    You make me so tempted to visit Turkey and I've been re-reading your posts on Turkey! Is Turkey safe for solo traveller?

    1. More than a decade ago, fellow single lady travelers used to tell me that they were harassed in Turkey. I see little evidence of that except in one occasion. It's still a heavily patriarchal culture but that's changing too. I used to travel on my own a lot throughout Greece and was pretty much left alone.

  19. I'm just now catching up on all your wonderful travel posts Marlene. I'm not the most adventurous traveler but one place on my "must visit in my lifetime" list is Istanbul.
    Thank you so much for this informative post. Love all your pictures but the ones of Lil L are always the cutest. Love everything about her - from her chic little quilted coat and scarves, to the barrette with the pixie haircut. Drop dead adorable!

    So sorry you couldn't find those ballet flats small enough! :(

  20. My goodness. You captured Istanbul perfectly. The women are so glamorous and chic.

    Those flats look incredibly well made. I love the education Lil L is getting. Her jacket is too cute.

  21. Such a great post! It's so fun to follow along on your adventures. That photo of Lil L is too adorable!!

  22. As ever, your photos are absolutely divine! I love living European adventures vicariously through you and look forward to the next time I can get over there. I'm slowly building my wish list itinerary through your gorgeous posts! The cab rides don't sound like any fun... I can get a little motion sick in an NYC cab so will be sure to pack vertigo pills!

  23. Hi what an amazing pictures! I'm visiting Istanbul next month and I was wondering if you do know the name of the cafe with brownie lollipops?

    1. hi there, I have no idea so had to ask my friend who took us there. Here's her reply:

      "It's Limonata Nisantasi. They've moved from the shopping mall to a shoplot down the street and are now next to the LV shop in Nisantasi. I haven't been yet so am not sure if they still have the same decor and desserts though"

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