One of the best things about living in Britain is leaving Britain. Don’t get me wrong, I love my adopted hometown of London, but in terms of travelling it’s definitely got location going for it. Add to that the abundance of cheap flights and fast trains to Europe, and it’s no wonder that Britons are among the most travelled people on earth.
Today kicks off a new series for my blog. Travelogue will take a look at past (and eventually, present) trips I’ve taken, through my camera’s lens. We’re starting with Istanbul, Turkey, which I visited with my best friend Maya this past April. With me in London and Maya temporarily living in Brussels, we knew we had to plan a joint adventure for Easter break. (We went backpacking together at age 17, so the idea of doing another trip 11 years on was too good to pass up.) Luckily, she had a friend who’s currently working in Istanbul, so we booked flights, packed our bags and spent a week staying with him in the centre of town.
My top tip for getting the most out of a new destination is to befriend a local. Work your connections, call up that random second cousin whom your mother insists you remember, whatever it takes. Because our host knew the lay of the land so well, Maya and I had a fantastic time. We saw all the sites with minimal queueing and fuss, ate spectacularly, took in some live music, and even saw a Canadian film at the Istanbul International Film Festival!
Much to my shame, Turkey was the first vaguely “non-Western” country I’ve ever been to. What can I say- with Europe on my doorstep for the past six years, I’ve been playing it safe. Well, no longer. The sights, sounds and tastes of this fascinating city have inspired me to cast my travel net a little wider in future, and since being home I’ve pretty much doubled my “To Go” list.
As a designer, the colours, patterns and textures of this city were a visual overload for me. From the hand-painted tiles in the Topkapı Palace to the textiles and lanterns on sale in the Grand Bazaar, I pretty much wanted to touch everything I saw. Luckily, I managed to curb my spending impulse and only brought home a few items- hey, I’ve gotta save for the next trip, right?
Istanbul is a vibrant, exciting city, full of friendly people, delicious food (seriously, to die for) and much fascinating history. I know I’ll be remembering this trip for a long time to come, and I’d definitely recommend visiting if you haven’t already been.
All photos © Eleanor Büsing