Thursday, September 30, 2010

Back in Business...

Now that I finally finished my Istanbul updates, it's back to business...and what better way to start than some fashion inspiration...I don't actually watch Gossip Girl but as you know I am a sucker for anything that inspires in terms of fashion and style, and from the images below I would say that this show definitely does...I can't say much about the actual episode where the images are from, since I haven't seen it, but it combines two of my favourite things: fabulous fashion and fabulous Paris...can't go wrong there :-) enjoy...
*for those that are interested I finally managed to post the photos from Turkey...you can check them out here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lovek/

Love K

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Last day in Istanbul...

That's it~our last day in this magical city...sigh...
What to say, we ended our adventure almost the same way we started it, by wandering the streets of Sultanahmet in wonder...the only difference this time was that we were more aware and more familiar with our surroundings and therefore had more confidence while getting lost in the many enchanting alley ways throughout the city...our last day was a relaxing one, both beautiful but also sad at the same time...I hate saying 'good-bye' to places that I fall in love with, and seeing as I fall in love quite often with gorgeous places, the 'good-bye' process is just that much harder...but even so, Istanbul was different...I was both sad to be leaving but also determined to enjoy every last minute in this amazing city and so I truly lived in the moment, enjoying and being happy with every second of the day...or at least I tried...

I attempted to capture the uniqueness of Istanbul...
I hope I did it a least a bit of justice...
A kind man who let me take his photo...
Our hotel and one of the many cats lounging peacefully by the stairs...
A store window that I loved and stuck my face against
every time we walked by...
The Haghia Sophia and Blue Mosque...
No matter how often I saw both structures, it still left me with a sense of awe...
So what did we do? We hung out, wandered the streets, stumbled upon a fabulous cafe/restaurant (of course!), ate and drank oodles and oodles of delicious Turkish tea (of course, of course!) We spent hours at the cafe, Palatium, a unique place owned by a Turkish-American who discovered an ancient ruin underneath the property and single-handedly excavated it...it now serves as a free museum for guests...only in Istanbul could this happen-this amazing bridging of history with contemporary culture...and how nice to have stumbled upon it on our last day...so we sat in one of the comfortable floor seats, playing cards and checkers (I don't mean to brag but I pretty much annihilated my husband in a vicious game of crazy 8s :-) eating, drinking, talking and reminiscing about the past events of our trip...

Palatium Cafe and Restaurant

In the evening, when the sun set but the city still bustled, we were drawn to the Blue Mosque one more time, for some reason it seemed like the right thing to do...after all, this was where we started our journey, so it only made sense to see it and feel it once again...and it was lovely...so many people coming in and out, chatting, eating, enjoying each other's company...so peaceful but lively at the same time...so inherently Istanbul...finally with somewhat heavy hearts at having to say good bye, we slowly made our way back to our hotel, closed our eyes and said "good night" to Istanbul...
Love K

Monday, September 27, 2010

Istanbul & Cappadocia Magic: Part VI

Day 8&9: Istanbul
Today was a day filled with extravagance...after a lazy morning, that consisted of a wonderful breakfast (yes filled with oodles of yummy Turkish tea-I am convinced my blood is now half tea), lazily wandering around Sultanahmet and enjoying the sights and sound, we decided to take the (crowded) tram through the city to visit the fabled Dolmabahce Palace-and I am happy to say that the tram ride was definitely worth it! If I thought that the Topkapi Sarayi was ornate and extravagant, well let me tell you the Dolmabahce Palace kicks it's little royal butt! This place is unbelievable! It was built in European Rococo style so the detailing in virtually every nook and crane is spectacular...I would go as far as to say that it is far more excessive (in terms of blatant show of wealth) than Versailles-the place boasts a 4.5 ton crystal chandelier after all...however despite all of that, my favourite part of the palace was the garden...because it's nestled right by the ocean, parts of the grounds go right to the sea, it provides breathtaking views and a serene atmosphere...unfortunately because of our late start to the day, our tour of the palace was a short-lived one, so after wandering through the grounds and taking a tea break (what else :-) at the local "Harem Cafe" we made our way back to Sultanahmet.

Exiting the Domabahce Palace and showing off a gorgeous
'pottery ring' I managed to haggle for that day
(maybe I still gots it? ;-)
I was especially excited to, however, because we were able to pick-up our tickets for Cappadocia! So after countless questions to our tour guide regarding this magical destination, we finally made our way through the crowded streets of Sultanhamet to find a place for dinner...On our way to dinner, however, we noticed that the parks surrounding the Blue Mosque were filled with families and friends picnicking-it was a really lovely thing to see~everyone gathered around, chatting and eating as part of a large community, an atmosphere only to be enhanced by the lovely yet haunting calls to prayer...

Sunset in Istanbul...
Night time in beautiful Istanbul...
The following day was a very restful day, in preparation for the big 8 hour night-bus ride to Cappadocia. I decided not to post anymore photos from the House Cafe (where we spent most of our time) because I figured I have posted enough of those already :-) Instead I opted for some cool shots of the city...enjoy...

Day 9&10: Cappadocia
After a gruelling 8 hour bus ride (through the night) we arrived in Goreme, a small town in Cappadocia where we would spend the next 2 days climbing various volcanic formations, visiting countless open-air museums and doing one of the coolest things ever~ Hot Air Ballooning!!! But I am getting way ahead of myself...We arrived in Goreme, a little sore and a lot tired, but full of excitement for what was in store. After a quick shower and change of clothes at our hotel, we were picked up by our small tour group and whisked away on our adventure. Did I mention our own hotel was a Cave Hotel~meaning it is a cave which was converted into hotel rooms-pretty neat!

Our cave dwelling while in Goreme...
that's our window on the right!
First stop: an open-air museum to see the famous Christian cave settlements which we got to walk through and explore on our own. These were pretty cool, as they are actual villages carved into the walls of hills. Anyway after this we also had the chance to see how some traditional Turkish pottery, carpets and onyx accessories are made. In between all of this, however, we were able to see and even climb the many Fairy Chimneys and other volcanic structures throughout the area. Personally, I am not one for rocky and desert-like landscapes, but I absolutely fell in love with this area...there is something magical about the ways and shapes in which the volcanic rock formed...one's imagination can go wild with picturing different shapes and forms for all of the rock structures...mind you the Fairy Chimneys are pretty phallic looking so one does not need an over-active imagination to see that ;-) Okay enough rambling, I will let the photos do the talking instead...

Me being a dork and attempting "dancer's pose" by the many volcanic formations...
(My YOGA instructor would be very disappointed with my form...
my standing leg is too bent...the shame!)
Some of the famous Cappadocian volcanic formations, cave cities
and phallic fairy chimneys...
Some of the various Turkish souvenirs (my personal favourite: the owls!)
and traditional Carpets and Pottery...
A curious little camel...
(I love these creatures, they are so adorable)
By the time evening rolled around and we were dropped off at our hotel, we were so tired that all we had energy for was a quiet dinner in a cool cafe (with bean bag chairs!) and a peaceful journey to dreamland...

"Good night" from Goreme...
Today was one of my favourite mornings ever-despite the fact that I had to be up at 4:30am!!! Why? Because at 5am a white van picked us up from our hotel room and brought us to a large field where our giant Hot Air Balloon was being prepared for flight! The whole experience was amazing-I still get goosebumps just thinking about it. We began the day with a small breakfast outside while we waited for our balloon to be filled with the hot air that would eventually keep us afloat...I admit I was a little nervous piling into what is essentially an over-sized laundry basket, but after the initial fear my sense of wonder took over...it's so peaceful going up in a balloon...I hate flying, the violent thrusts of the engines, the sheer speed-it all makes me incredibly nervous, this was such a different and peaceful experience (I even looked down!) We went fairly high and had the most amazing view of both the sunrise and the entire area...it left me breathless...
Balloon Ride!!!
What a view to wake up to!
The landing too was peaceful, no bumps at all (other than the fact that we landed on a poor little wine bush)...but the best part of the landing was the champagne reception that followed~what an amazing way to end the morning!

A lovely way to end the morning
and begin our day...
It was hard to top the morning, but surprisingly the rest of the day came pretty close to being just as spectacular...we were once again able to climb through some old Cappadocian cave settlements followed by an amazing hike along a river and valleys to be concluded by a fabulous shish-kabob lunch at a river-side restaurant.

Ihlara hike along the river...
Women cooking/baking Turkish tortilla-like breads
(I forgot what these are called but they are delicious-stuffed with cheese,
veggies and potatoes)
The day was concluded with a tour or a somewhat creepy underground city (a city originally constructed by the Hittites and used throughout times of war). It was interesting to see, but unfortunately it was so poorly ventilated and so crowed and crammed that I (among others) got really claustrophobic and had to leave early...At the end of our tour we were dropped off at our hotel, where we had just enough time to wash up and prepare for the long night bus ride back to Istanbul...
The many charms to avert the 'Evil Eye'
(these are found everywhere in Istanbul and Cappadocia~
every home, restaurant and cafe will display one near the enterance...)
Love K
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