Archives for posts with tag: culture

I went with my sister and boyfriend to the Vogue 100 exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery a couple of weeks ago. I was ridiculously proud of myself as I always intend to go to galleries and exhibits but somehow never get around to it. I think living in London all my life has ruined me, in the sense that there’s always so much cool stuff to go to that I never go to it, because I’m so secure in the knowledge that there will always be more cool stuff to come! Which makes no sense, but there we go.

Anyway, I really enjoyed it, despite not enjoying Vogue as a magazine all that much (too many ads, it just annoys me). The images are so creative and iconic though that it was really interesting to see so many of them in one place.

This was my favourite photograph…

Photo-by-Helmut-Newton-1974.

 

It was taken by Helmut Newton (in 1974 I think, it took me ages to find it online, and my research skills are somewhat hampered by my inherent laziness!), and I just love it. I’m not sure why this one tickled my fancy over all the others but something about it just appealed to me. Maybe because the dresses seem like something I could actually wear and look good in (as opposed to 99.9% of all clothes featured in Vogue ever), or maybe because it reminded me of sneaking out of parties (albeit slightly less glamorous ones!) to escape the mingling, and gossip with my sisters. 🙂

As always, however, the best part was the gift shop. :-p

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Hope everyone is having a good week!

Love,

The Styletterie

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Our final day in Istanbul began the way all our days had begun….

…with the epic butter mountain at breakfast! 🙂

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After we had eaten and done the obligatory mad rush to pack and leave the room, we stashed our suitcases at the hotel, and headed out to Dolmabahce Palace. This was recommended to me by a cousin who had visited Istanbul, as an example of insane uber-grandness, and it certainly lived up to that!

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There was a long queue for tickets when we got there, which was annoying but at least the view was great.

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There was also a long wait to get in as they only let a few people in at a time. When we got to the front we also realised that you have to go as part of a guided tour, which was annoying as I really don’t like guided tours! I know they are way more informative and everything, I just hate being told what to look at and for how long when I’m on holiday!

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It got more irritating when, after putting our little blue shoe covers on, we were told that there were no photos allowed inside!

Had it not been for this blog, I probably would have been quite zen about it but it turns out that “no photos” is the worst thing you can say to a blogger, and I was miffed!

I also totally flouted the rule and tried to take as many pictures as I could without being noticed.

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Consequently, all my pictures are slightly blurry, and frequently involve the underside of someone’s chin, but still! I’m a rebel without a cause! I’m a donkey on the edge! I AM BLOGGER HEAR ME ROAR!

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It was incredibly grand and extravagant. Apparently, building it actually contributed to the bankruptcy of the country! It was much more European than the heavily Ottoman influenced Topkapi, having been built much later on (in the 1800s) when the “refined”, luxurious European style was much more in fashion.

The chandeliers were amazing…

Dolmabahce chandeliers

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The library was lovely…

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The grounds were fabulous…

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More ‘Christmas tree’ railings! They were everywhere!:

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I would say that at least 50% of all the young girls I saw were wearing these flower crowns, and they were selling them everywhere!

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We passed these vibrant rainbow steps on the tram and I made my boyfriend get off so we could take pictures on them. Unfortunately, everyone else had the same idea so there was a queue of vain baffoons like myself waiting for the steps to empty. In the end, the people before us took so long, and other, less polite people didn’t bother to wait so they never emptied and there are loads of random people in all my photos…

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And cats! So many cats!

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I was wearing:

Pink M&S trench, which looked pretty cool against the steps, though I say so myself.

M&S flamingo shirt

M&S treggings (Ugh I’ve done it again, I do wear other brands sometimes!)

Office booties.

Sublime necklace.

River Island sunglasses.

Love bracelet from M&S (dammit!)

I was dressing solely for comfort here as I was heading straight to the airport. I always rely on colour and bling to make my comfy travel outfits a bit more exciting than a tracksuit.

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I never realised that I walked funny until these photos… Why are my legs always sideways?……. On the plus side, I appear to have done something weird to the photo on the right which makes me look really tall and leggy! Score 🙂

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Apparently, they have rainbow steps like these all over Istanbul, (see here for the story).

I adored them, they are just so darn cheerful!

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After the obligatory million pictures with cats (and truth be told, cats make me nervous! I am definitely more of a goldfish person), we headed back to Sultanahmet for our last supper. We went to a restaurant called Khorasani, which was, by far, the best meal we ate there! Had we eaten there first, I doubt we’d have gone anywhere else. It was so good! Plus, it was pretty, and the service was great. I would definitely recommend it to anyone going to Istanbul!

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Then we rushed back to our lovely hotel to get our bags and off we went. Back home. To the land of gloomy weather and sup-par lamb shish. 😦

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It was an amazing trip though! So glad I finally went! 🙂

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Thanks for reading!

Love,

The Styletterie

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The next day of our trip and the lovely weather deserted us in favour of thunderstorms and hair-destroying humidity. Seemed as good a day as any to go shopping!

The Grand Bazaar is a covered market, with over 5000 stalls. Last year, it was actually the most visited tourist attraction in the world. So, obviously a bit of a tourist trap but I was still excited as shopping abroad is basically my favourite thing. I love being able to say “oh this, yeah, just a little something I picked up in Istanbul…(BECAUSE I AM WELL CULCHURED THANK YOU FOR NOTICING!)” 😉

I wore my sister’s big bow hairclip from the 80s that I recently found. I love that from certain angles from the front I look like I’m wearing little cat ears. My cat ear sunglasses from River Island were therefore also necessary, despite the lack of sun.

The peacock earrings were a gift, the mini-pearl necklace (that I also have the big Zara version of) is from Next, and the chilli pepper pendant was a freebie from a shop in Siena.

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I also wore: H&M cardi, and my M&S pink trench.

I had to pose in front of the below shop as I have recently started watching the Dawson’s Creek box-set, having completely missed it when I was actually the target audience for it, and am obsessed. It makes me so happy, it’s ridiculous!

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Diverse sizes of mannequins = good

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Terrifying child mannequins with goatees = not quite as good

The Grand Bazaar was constructed over 500 years ago. It was leaking in several places, and looking a little worse for wear all over. All of which only added to its charm.

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Sooo, I promised my boyfriend that if I saw something I liked I would either buy it or forget about it, and I absolutely would not make him wander around for hours trying to navigate back to the first stall we saw to get something I had already decided against. And then I decided, after a million further twists and turns through the seemingly senseless labyrinth that is the Grand Bazaar, that I wanted the front lamp in the above picture at one of the first stalls we had passed and we spent about an hour trying to retrace our steps (the millions of photos I had taken actually really helped with this!) so that I could um and ahh for a further half hour about whether or not it would fit into my suitcase.

I bought it, and it did, just FYI 🙂

I have to say though, that for all the sheer overwhelming size and quantity of the place and the things there, I was actually pretty underwhelmed by what was available. Usually, if you set me loose in a market like this, I spend all my money and leave with my body weight in tat. However, there was just so much choice, and so many stalls selling similar things that it became impossible for me to actually choose anything.

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I love the high-security closing up system…

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I was obsessed with all the lamps. I would have bought so many if I hadn’t had to get them back home somehow! (Although, a couple of the vendors told me that they can courier abroad.)

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There is an antiques section in the middle which was gorgeous, and I wanted everything. However, being antiques, they were unfortunately not your standard market prices. I enquired after a bracelet that turned out to cost US$6,000. *sigh* I would have taken more pictures but they kept shooing me away and telling me off!

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There was one passageway near here that we turned to go down only to find that it was completely blocked by dozens of men praying, in response to the call to prayer. (Which rang out several times a day and was so stunning every time.) It was really interesting to see, as I had been wondering about how the system worked – if people tended to congregate to pray or just stop where they are etc. Never having lived in or visited a predominantly Muslim country, I had only ever seen people praying individually before.

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In the end I left with only my lovely lamp, which cost about 380 Turkish Lira (approx. £90), and these 3 bracelets, which came to about £22 altogether. But, while I didn’t buy much, it was fascinating and definitely a place worth visiting!

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(N.B. Everyone tells you you’re supposed to haggle so, even though I hate haggling with a passion, I did. They did lower the prices a bit but not so much that it made a real difference… Maybe that’s just because I’m so rubbish at it though!)

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Lunch. 40% of what I ate in Istanbul was bread and cheese, 50% was lamb and rice, and the last 10% was ice cream. As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t get any better than that! 😀

Unfortunately the above meal was too large for the plate it was on, causing the waiter to drop a piece of the cheesy bread right in my crotch. He was so flustered, I felt really bad for him!

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I’m not sure the shop names below would go down as well in England…

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After we had exhausted the Grand Bazaar (and my boyfriend), we wandered through the Spice Market, which is right next door. However, again we were a bit underwhelmed, and didn’t buy anything. It was obvious that it was heavily geared towards tourists, not locals, and my bf (who has clearly not understood the point of travelling!) said that there was nothing you couldn’t buy at the Turkish Food Centre in Stoke Newington anyway.

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Not entirely convinced that “Hakuna Matata” is an authentic Turkish spice…

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Designer dummies!

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Um…..but…it’s a bunny?

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My bf bought some horizontal kebabs (cag) from Sehzade Cag on the way back to the hotel. He tried to buy 4 skewers but ended up with 4 entire dishes, complete with bread and salad. In the unlikely event that he starts a rap career, he shall be known as “4 Kebabs”.

2 Chains will be so jealous.

While he was amassing enough food (which was delicious by the way) to feed a small army, I was buying enough scarves to keep them warm while they digest.

I bought several of each of the colours below (they were only about £4 each!) to give out to my friends and family (and myself) as souvenirs.

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We went for a swim at the hotel, purely because I had brought FOUR bathing suits with me (packing light? What’s packing light?) and had to wear at least one to prove that it was worth me bringing them…

Then we got changed and headed out for some more authentic Turkish cuisine – SHAKE SHACK!

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I wore my leopard print jacket (last worn on my bday), black Dorothy Perkins top, my new bracelets and earrings that I bought last summer in Monastiraki.

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We took the tram (very efficient, pretty clean) from Gulhane to Tophane and then walked up the steepest, longest hill ever to get to the main shopping street in Beyoglu. I would have liked to have had a couple more days in Istanbul to explore the more modern areas like this as well.

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The street was decorated with Christmas lights, even though it was the end of March! Not sure if this is a year round look or what…

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Shake Shack was fabulous as ever (although not as good as the one in London, which in turn is not as good as the one in New York).

I loved these random feathers, not sure if there were a sign for something or just art, but they certainly livened up the never-ending hill of doom as we retraced our steps back down!

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Thanks for reading!

Love,

The Styletterie

Hagia Sofia

After visiting the spectacular Blue Mosque, it was time to walk across the square to the other main attraction of Istanbul, Hagia Sophia. Originally the biggest Orthodox cathedral of the Byzantine era, it fell to the Ottoman empire in 1453, and was turned into a mosque. It was secularized in 1931 and made into a museum.

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I was especially excited to visit this building, as I have been raised as a Greek Orthodox and so have been in several Greek Orthodox churches, including the stunning St Sophia cathedral in London, which took a lot of inspiration from its namesake in Istanbul (or Constantinople, as it was when Hagia Sophia was a church). I was keen to experience the amalgamation of church and mosque, and my Dad, who had been to Istanbul years ago, declared this to be the most important sight there.

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I kept thinking all the signs said “Girls’ Entrance”…

In fact, it was even more of an obvious division than I expected. You can still see many of the mosaics depicting Christian figures and angels, with large wooden boards bearing writings from The Quran hung over them. (The mosaics were whitewashed over when it was converted into a mosque, and restored when it became a museum.)

I thought these lights were so beautiful:

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We walked upstairs through a long, windy and dark corridor. I had to laugh because my bf filmed all the way up this very boring walkway, expecting to emerge at a breathtaking view of the Cathedral and instead was greeted by-

-a giant wall of scaffolding!

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They didn’t make many big structural changes when it was converted into a mosque, they merely added minarets and moved the altar off centre, as it obviously had to face Mecca.

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It looks a bit weird actually, this majestically designed building with an off-centre focal point.

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View of the Blue Mosque from the Hagia Sophia window:

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It really was fascianting to see the mix of styles. Some of it was so Greek, and felt like I was just in a regular Greek church, and then you’d turn round and the Turkish, Muslim influence would completely change that. I love that they made it into a museum actually, so you can really enjoy the opposing cultures and heritage of this historic building.

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Note to self: Try and stand in front of the No Entry sign that totally kills the effect of the picture next time.

(Pink trench: M&S, black dress: Asos, sunglasses: River Island)

I loved these cards in the gift shop:

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Nothing makes me laugh more than the utter cheekiness of tourist shops selling air in a tin. Surely no one buys this?!!

Back outside, the Obelisk of Theodosius:

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We went for lunch at The Han, my first meal sitting cross-legged on the floor. I now understand why this isn’t popular all over the world. It is really not that comfy!

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Suite Blanco turquoise jewellery and H&M silver bangle.

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Ok, so I know this isn’t exactly depicting the majesty of Turkey, but still – I want my pyjamas waiting for me like this every day, dammit!

We went for a stroll along the Bosphorus in the evening. None of my pictures do justice to how pretty it was, or how the bridges have lights on them that sparkle as they sway in the wind. (The lights, not the bridges!)

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We went for dinner at a random streetside restaurant we passed, where a violinist came and played his violin (badly) on the table right next to us for half an hour, while I jumped out of my skin every time a stray cat brushed past me (which was often). Definitely not a highlight.

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We passed a massive tower of traditional sweets in a shop on the way home but, being me, I ended the evening back in my hotel room with a Cornetto.

In my defence, it was a flavour that we don’t have in England.

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Strawberry Cheesecake Cornetto… 😀

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And our first full day was done! Sob.

Thanks for reading!

Love,

The Styletterie

photo 4 (2) I went on a mini-break to Istanbul in late March and it was gorgeous! Here are some of my favourite pictures:

Day 1: Our hotel room. We stayed at the Hotel Sultania, and were very happy and comfortable there. I thought that the decor might be kind of cheesy but actually I loved it and the staff were all fantastic. 🙂 photo 1 (5) We arrived at dusk so we just went for a wander and then dinner. I wore: Stripey top with a weird back and underlayer effect from Express in New York that I had forgotten I had; M&S treggings; Sublime necklace; pink M&S trench that was a gift from my Mum and sister and has quickly become my favourite thing. The panda slippers were a gift a while ago so I don’t know where they’re from! (I refrained from wearing them out on my walk and just wore black Office booties. 😦 ) OOTD day1 Our hotel was in the Sultanahmet district so just a 5 minute walk to the Sultanahmet Mosque, better known as the Blue Mosque, and Haghia Sophia, amongst other things. photo 5 (2) Multi-coloured fountain in front of the Blue Mosque:

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We went to Gulhane Kebab House for dinner as it had lots of good reviews on Tripadvisor. It was really tasty (I now need Turkish style buttered rice with all my meals) but we had to laugh as, while we were paying, 2 waiters came up to us separately to let us know that they were on Tripadvisor and would we like to review them? We smiled and said we would and the second guy hovered over us, waiting. “Would you like to do it now?” he offered. Umm. “WE HAVE WIFI!”

So, while it was really nice, I think we might have the reason for its online popularity!

photo 1 (6) The following day we made the Blue Mosque our first port of call. We arrived at prayer time so had to wait in the courtyard until it was over, at which point visitors are admitted. I wore: my black Asos 90s button down dress, with black leggings, boots, my pink coat and turquoise Suite Blanco jewellery. I added a strap top underneath for modesty, and kept my coat on inside the Mosque anyway. ootdday1 With regards to clothing modesty (something I don’t usually give too much thought to, being of an un-shy nature)- while Turkey is a secular country and I could wear whatever I liked, I was aware that I would be visiting religious buildings and that a large proportion of the population is Muslim. Consequently, I did make an effort to be more demure than usual, just as a sign of respect.

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photo 3 (5) Seriously, this building was so pretty, all I did was take photos of it. Every time I walked past I was struck by how picturesque it was – I now have about 400 of the same photo! photo 2 (8) photo 1 (12) They do hand out scarves for the women but I had one in my bag anyway so used that. You also had to take off your shoes (but you could keep your socks on.) photo 2 (12) 10419036_10152949821523952_5306533924525370691_n

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photo 3 (9) The reason it’s called the Blue Mosque is because the tiles on the ceiling are predominantly blue. photo 5 (7) Inside Blue Mosque I didn’t take too many pictures inside, as there were still some people praying and I felt weird about photographing them mid-prayer. I also refrained from any selfies in the actual Mosque but I was the only one! Pouting v-sign selfies abounded. I know this makes me sound so old (and possibly a bit judgemental :-/) but it just seems like an odd thing to do in a place of worship, regardless of whether or not you’re there for religious reasons. As someone who was taken to Church a lot as a kid, I was always taught to be on my best, most decorous behaviour and I know my parents would kill me if I didn’t show the same respect in any and all places of worship!photo 1 (13) photo 3 (10) photo 1 (24) I liked these little trees on the railings nearby- they look like Christmas trees!

A quick ice cream (Turkey is famous for its dondurma, which tastes just like normal, delicious ice cream but goopier and stickier. I think it’s made with mastic. It’s also famous for the sellers tricking you by pretending to drop it, spinning it around so you can’t grab it etc. And even though I had watched a whole video about this beforehand, I still fell for it and panicked that I’d dropped the ice cream as they were handing it to me!) and then on to phase 2 of the day, Hagia Sophia, which will have to wait for another blog post as I took way too many pictures of that too!

(Seriously, editing’s a b*tch! But considering that my own parents were unable to stay awake during my photo presentation, I figured I should cut down before unleashing them on the unsuspecting blogosphere!)

photo 5 (8) Thanks for reading!

Have a great Bank Holiday weekend! 😀

Love,

The Styletterie