Travel

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Recent Travel Articles

Bazaar People: Exporing Istanbul’s Old Khans and Oriental Bazaars on a Guided Photo Tour

On my recent trip to Istanbul, I spent an afternoon exploring the old khans and oriental bazaars of with local photographer Kemel Nuraydin. It was a really fantastic way to get a different insight into (and fabulous pictures of)  everyday life of the artisans who create some of the handicrafts sold in the Grand Bazaar.

Kemel is the director of Istanbul Photo Workshops and offers a tasty menu of full and half-day photo tours.  My ever-considerate husband gave me a half-day tour as an anniversary present, thinking it would be a fun way to see something a bit off the beaten bath in Istanbul. The Istanbul Photo Workshop tour selections were so good, it was difficult to pick which one to take, but I ultimately decided to I wanted to get a glimpse of the inner workings of the workshops around the famous  and sometimes overwhelming Grand Bazaar Kapalı Çarşı.

Mirror Man: a portrait, reflected

I got to walk briefly into a mosque tucked inside the Grand Bazaar. It has a gorgeous lamp and (of course) great carpet

A cool old abandoned textile machine

Chairs and Old Radio. Not classic postcards of Istanbul, yet really fascinating

Pocket Watches for sale in a vintage jewelry boutique in the Grand Bazaar

I particularly loved the opportunity it provided me to shoot some environmental portraits of artisans doing everything from drinking tea and smelting liquid metal and making Jesus figures and hands of Fatima.

Portrait of a shoe repairman at the Grand Bazaar (Kapalı çarşı)

Left: Simultaneous work and glare from a craftsman Right: There is always time for tea. Istanbul is very civilized that way.

Portrait of a tea delivery man with a great smile

Left:Antique Shop Owner Right: A Turkish jeweler wielding his blowtorch a la Flashdance

Environmental Portrait of a worker in a workshop

Bazaar People

Inside the Workshop, and that’s me shooting in the dusty mirror in the corner.

Smelting at the Jesus Factory

Left: Metal cooling in the smelting workshop Right: Keys made in the workshop

Jesus Factory Production

Kemel helped get me over my fear of shooting HDR on both my Canon DSLR and my iPhone. He’s a really interesting guy and a good teacher. He’s also enjoyable company.

HDR view

Istanbul’s View at the Magic Hour

Rooftop View of Süleymaniye Mosque

Photographers are usually cool and Kemel is no exception. Even my husband, who isn’t a photographer himself found him to be a great guide. We both enjoyed this tour so much we want to take another tour with Kemel the next time we get to Istanbul. Feel free to consider me a future repeat customer of the Istanbul Photo Workshops!

For additional images of this tour, check out the blog posts written by my lovely assistant, Anastasia, and my friend, Jonathan who joined me on guided photowalk.

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Istanbul’s Hookah Bar Culture: Erenler Çay Nargile Bahçesi Café

Hookas at Erenler Çay Nargile Bahçesi

Perhaps it is because water pipes will forever be associated with the trippy smoking caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland, or, in my MTV filled mind, the awesomely wacky Tom Petty “Don’t Come Around Here No More” video, but there is something intrinsically exotic yet familiar about Istanbul’s hookah bar culture.

It’s not uncommon for non-smokers to dismiss the appeal of such cafes, and visit Istanbul without stopping at one, but to do so is to overlook a charming part of Turkish culture.

Istanbul’s nargile café culture isn’t really about getting your smoke on, although that happens. Nargile cafes serve as a place where friends can catch over a cup of Turkish coffee, a cup of tea and share a nargile pipe. The nargile can be filled with numerous flavors of tobacco and then piped through water or juice for extra flavor. The effort and ceremony involved in ordering (and smoking a hookah) with friends forces a certain degree of intimacy and allows patrons to get beyond the idle chit chat you might have while waiting in line for your pumpkin spiced latte at Starbuck’s. Other cities I’ve visited, such as Damascus, don’t have the same attitude towards women and water pipes and smoking is strictly acceptable for men only. This makes nargile cafes a fun place to sit back and people watch.

Erenler Çay Nargile Bahçesi Hookah Lounge

Smoking and Chatting

Puffs of Hookah Smoke, Fascinating to Watch and Photograph

On my last trip to Istanbul,   I didn’t smoke a nargile pipe myself, but I did find a new favorite Nargile cafe. It was hot and I was in the middle of a photo tour of the Grand Bazaar when when my tour guide suggested we sit for a few minutes to have a drink at the colorful and charming hookah garden called Erenler Çay Bahçesi. While I accidentally checked into the wrong geo pin on FourSquare, I remembered the café shared a name with Turkey’s  2003 winner of the Eurovision song contest (a factoid I learned from my friend, Jonathan).

It’s a charming shaded garden, filled with lanterns, glowing coals, and cozy groups of friends and it’s an enjoyable place to have a juice or coffee, even for the biggest non-smoker.

Erenler Çay Nargile Bahçesi

Mimar Hayrettin Mah. Yeniçeriler Cad. No:36

Eminönü-Beyazıy Fatih

İstanbul, Turkey

Burning Charcoal, getting ready for nargile pipes

Hookah Tubes

Erenler Çay Nargile Bahçesi Interior

Erenler Çay Nargile Bahçesi just a few blocks from the Grand Bazaar

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#FriFotos: Sydney Harbour in Pictures

Mobile photography autostitch panorama of Sydney Harbor shot from suite 2515 of the Four Seasons Sydney.

Of all the Harbors (or Harbours) in the world, it’s Sydney Harbour I love the most. It’s got the architectural gem the iconic Sydney Opera House (take the tour, it’s fascinating), which always reminds you where you are.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb is one of the best run tourist attractions I’ve come across. It’s so well done, it’s one of my top “things to do in Sydney.”

You can take the nearby ferries from Circular Quay to the fantastic Taronga Zoo (where the Giraffes have million dollar views) or Luna Park amusement park which occasional hosts concerts by bands like Tenacious D and Kylie Minogue in addition to having all the usual rides and games.

 Ferry from Luna Park Sydney

Ferry from Luna Park Sydney

 Harbour Bridge Shot With My Diana

Harbour Bridge Shot With My Diana

I shot this image of the Sydney Opera House with my Diana camera from a ferry in Sydney Harbour

I shot this image of the Sydney Opera House with my Diana camera from a ferry in Sydney Harbor

Yacht with Opera House

 Dancers at Luna Park in Sydney

Dancers at Luna Park in Sydney

Sydney Harbor Bridge

Viewing the Sydney Harbour Bridge (mobile photography, hipstamatic)

Sydney’s magnificent opera building sits in Sydney Harbour. I took this shot using hipstamatic while taking a ferry back from Luna Park Sydney

Cities on the water have a certain charm, and because I’m so fond of the views of circular quay and the Opera House. During my last visit, I stayed at the top notch Four Seasons Sydney, where I got some of these amazing pictures of pink dawn from suite 2512. I also had a massage at the Four Seasons spa which was so relaxing, I actually  fell asleep.

 Sydney Harbour from my Suite at the Four Seasons

Sydney Harbour, a picture from my Suite at the Four Seasons

Morning View of the Harbour Bridge

Morning View of the Harbour Bridge

Rain doesn’t ruin the view– it just makes Sydney’s Harbour more interesting. I shot both these mobile photography images with my iPhone 4s.

Tiny Sydney Opera House

Tiny Sydney Opera House (mobile photography image, after a glass of Australian Syrah)

Horbour Bridge View

Harbor Bridge View in the rain

And while Sydney Harbour is always spectacular, it is most magical on New Year’s Eve. Check out the fireworks from a NYE I spent on the roof of the Park Hyatt Sydney.

 Fireworks over the Sydney Opera House on New Year's Eve

Fireworks over the Sydney Opera House on New Year’s Eve

On New Year's Eve, Fireworks over Sydney Harbour are incredible.

On New Year’s Eve, Fireworks over Sydney Harbour are incredible. You get the best views of them from the recently renovated Park Hyatt Sydney and the fantastic Four Seasons Sydney.

 


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Wow Suite at the W Istanbul

View from the Second Floor

View from the Second Floor

During my recent trip to Istanbul, I got to spend 2 nights in the Wow suite at the W Istanbul. The suite is aptly named– both my husband and I said “wow” aloud while being shown the gorgeous contemporary suite. Here are some of my favorite pictures of the Wow Suite of the W Hotel Istanbul.

Living Room Decor at the W Istanbul

Living Room

Dining Room

Dining Room Interior Details

Office Nook in the Wow Suite

Kitchenette of the Wow Suite at the W Istanbul

Bedroom of the Wow Suite, complete with bathtub

Jacuzzi bath, right in your bedroom

Walk Thru Shower, complete with seven heads (one is a hand shower)

Wow Suite Shower Head

Ventilation Sky Windows in the Wow Suite of the W Istanbul

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The W Istanbul in Pictures: A Photo Essay

Impressive Breakfast Buffet at the W Istanbul

I recently visited Istanbul, where I spent a few days at the W Istanbul. I’ve stayed at a few exceptional W hotels, and the W Istanbul is another great reason to horde Starpoints. Built in a bunch of former row houses, the W Istanbul is one of the most stylish outposts for the brand. It’s so beautiful, it would be an insult to write about the property without letting images do the talking. So here is my first photo set of the glamorous and swanky W Istanbul.

The W Insider in the Lobby of the W Istanbul

Wall Directions

W Istanbul Interior Details from the Bar

Bar at the W Istanbul

The Contemporary Chic Restaurant and Bar

Bedroom of a Cabana Room

Bathroom of a Cabana Room

Inside of a Cabana Room

Outside of a Cabana Room

Windows, Exterior of W Istanbul


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