The most vibrant city I’ve ever seen and had the priveledge of living in for the past four years. The chaotic hustle and bustle of a city that never sleeps. Coffee and spice aromas fill the air while wandering the back alley ways of the Grand Bazaar. Istanbul has so much to offer and I am constantly inspired by buildings, scripture, textures, tastes and smells. A city for all your senses if you embrace them.
After living here for three years and running an accessories brand I was forever spending my days in Eminonu, a place that is constantly filled with bustling shoppers, buying anything from spices, to soaps, to sponges, coffee, wooden spoons and so so much more. After wandering around and finding inspiration in nearly everything I could get my hands on, I stumbled across pestemals - the Turkish word given to Hammam Turkish towels. A artisanal craft dating back centuries, where women and men would use luxurious 100% Turkish cotton drying cloths after a hammam (known as our modern day sauna). Turkish towels are extremely absorbent, texturous and perfect for any décor accessory, bathroom and beach essential.
We bought some samples and there our small dad and daughter duo business started. Turkey is known for being a textile heaven, and what better way than exploring constantly through maze like alley ways, getting lost for hours but being so in awe of everything Istanbul has to offer.
For me, I find myself still as a local heading into the old town - Sultanahmet for a afternoon Turkish coffee or to pick up some freshly made baklava, but I think one thing for me that makes me feel alive is taking the ferry between two continents and travelling to the Islands of Princes Island. A hours cruise to a car-less oasis situated closer to the Asian side, we often head to their beaches for summer and spend hours in the water.
I have compiled a list of some of my favourite things to do while in Istanbul
Things to do in Istanbul
- First and for most book early - come in spring or summer its more beautiful then and the weather is so warm
- Try and learn a few Turkish words : Merhaba - Hello // Gunaydin - Good Morning // Ne kadar - how much?
- Try seafood restaurants - A few recommended ones on the Bosphorus would be Park Fora, Sur Balik and Arnavutkoy Balik (balik meaning fish) there are a few small little hidden restaurants found in the old town but we tend to eat mostly Turkish or Western food in our suburbs. If you are not into fish try Nusret - #saltbae for fine dining meat eating but at a $$$
- Go for cocktails - pretty much anywhere in Istanbul, they all seem to have the best cocktails but we like Soho rooftop bar or the garden bar called the allis.
- Shop in the old town known as Sultanahmet, there are many small streets that you can wander around for ages and the most beautiful boutiques, the alley ways are like a maze but worth exploring, they mostly lead to eminonu + the grand bazaar
- Try see as many tourist attractions as possible, favourites being Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, Topkapi Palace + Bosphorus tours
- Take a ferry from the European side to the Asian side or do a day trip to one of the five islands, our favourite one is Buyukada (big island) also known as Princes Island.
- Drink lots of Turkish tea / Çay , if you’re brave enough try Turkish kahve (turk kahve) probably with sugar and a side of baklava ALWAYS
- Try the organic veggie markets most days in different suburbs - on Wednesday we take our crochet shoppers and walk up to buy fresh produce situated in Ortakoy (our local suburb market)
- Take a hundred pictures but remember to live in the moment too
x S U M M A H / K i r s t