1 This is where we stayed in Istanbul, The House Hotel Bosphorus in the Ortakoy district.
2 Breakfast at the House Hotel: from left to right - Gencay, Stephen, August, me, Maud, and Antony Doucet from the House Hotel. My favorite breakfast was poached eggs in yogurt with tomato chilli oil - Delicious!
3 This is the amazing Haga Sophia.
4 You can just see the Virgin and Child mosaic in the center of the dome. The round & square calligraphic paintings are to Allah and the Prophet Mohammed. The massive dome of the cathedral was the largest in the world for one thousand years.
5 Haghia Sophia means Holy Wisdom. This is a 12th-century mosaic of the Virgin and Child flanked by Empress Irene and Emperor Johannes Komenosll.
6 This is the recently restored six-winged Seraphin in Haghia Sophia. The faces had been painted over when the building became a mosque.
7 The Blue Mosque, built in the early 17th-century, takes its name from the brilliant blue and white iznik tiles that line the walls. Every wall has a different design, each one delicate and beautiful.
8 This is Topkapi Palace, the residence of the Ottoman Sultans for 400 years during the mid 15th century. The complex is enormous, with many buildings and pavilions, which serviced the Sultan, his court, and the 4000 people who lived there.
9 Maud standing before beautiful blue iznik tiles, which line many walls with seemingly endless designs
10 The grounds contain kitchens, stables, private family rooms, meeting and ceremonial rooms, the treasury, mosques, libraries, dormitories, and schools.
11 The examples of beautiful ottoman architecture are interspersed with courtyards and gardens.
12 You should set aside at least a half a day to go through the entire palace.
13 The craftsmanship and beautiful Ottoman designs are ever-changing as you go from one pavilion to another.
14 An exterior shot
15 And another
16 The whole complex is perched on the high ground overlooking the Bosphorus.
17 More exterior
18 Exterior detail
19 The Topkapi Palace Archeological Museum - It was great to see the Hellenistic & Roman antique statuary on display in this beautiful late 19th-century building. I especially loved the bust of Alexander the Great.
20 The markets of Istanbul - Dried tomatoes and eggplants hang in the spice market. The eggplant skins are softened and stuffed with delicious rice mixtures.
21 Another shop with great merchandise
22 Gencay, our friend and guide, is a chef at the restaurant Meze. He took us to his favorite shops in the spice market. Here’s Maud and August with the spice vendor.
23 We took a ferry across to the Asian side to visit the fish and meat markets. Here’s Gencay surveying the fresh fish. After we made our selection, the café cooked it to order for our lunch.
24 Ayran, a delicious yogurt drink, is served very cold with foam on the top. It’s incredibly refreshing on a hot day.
25 Church of the Saviour, in Chora, has exquisite mosaics created in the 14th century. Here, the Virgin is laid out on a bier with Christ seated behind in a dome of light that comes from the heavens, in this small, intimate church.
26 Mezze restaurant - http://www.mezze.com.tr - is located across from the Pera Palace Hotel. The dessert, bananas topped with honey, almonds, pistachios, and clotted cream with or without chili sauce was a favorite.
27 Cappadocia is a 90 minute flight from Istanbul. One of the great natural wonders of Turkey, the Conical rocks were formed from volcanic ash and then eroded into fantastic shapes.
28 Originally this tuffa rock was soft enough to carve into cave homes and churches. Early Christians hid in these caves during the Roman period.
29 Maud & August used the carved toe holds to shimmy through a narrow passage & emerge into the 'church terrace. The Goreme Open Air museum, originally a monastic community, is a great way to see these rock churches & homes.
30 Cappadocia hiking trails take you through the spectacular landscape and ancient cave churches to explore along the way.
31 Our hotel in Cappadocia, Esbellu Evi, is a small 'cave hotel,' built by joining 3 cave homes together. It was beautiful and comfortable, with terrific views from the terrace.
32 The best way to see the Cappadocia landscape is from the air. Approximately 75 hot air balloons launch every morning. We used Kapadokya Balloons. The basket of this balloon can hold up to 20 people!
33 Because balloons need to fly under calm wind conditions, we left our hotel at 4:20 AM and were in the air by 6:00, just as the sky began to brighten, with gentle breezes and minimal thermal activity.
34 From the air, the mountains seem to be made of gentle folds.
35 The 'fairy chimneys' were formed when the soft rock, eroded by wind & water, left the hard rock on top, that looks a bit like a hat.
36 The changing light and the landscape was magical.
37 After a gentle touchdown, the crew folded the balloon up into a huge bag. Then playfully, they picked up Maud and some other young women & threw them into the balloon bag.
38 This beautiful stand, with lovely handmade wooden boxes filled with dried fruits and nuts, was at the top of a cliff overlook. Stephen shopped for mulberries, apricots, walnuts, and almonds.
39 The Goreme Open Air Musuem contains the finest rock cut churches from the 10th, 11th, and 12th centuries. The Dark church and the Tolcali church contain amazing frescoes.
40 Ephesus is the world’s largest intact ancient Roman city. The Greek city was built around 1000 BC and was the center of the sea trade. The library of Celcus, built between 114 and 117 BC, is of of the most arresting of all ruins.
41 Maud and August
42 The city of Bodrum from our hotel, the Marmara - The modern & beautiful hotel is decorated with eccentric art works and great sitting rooms. The shop in the lobby has a well-curated selection of locally made jewelry and clothing.
43 Bodrum has great shooping and restaurants. Maud outside Safran, a great place to buy woven cotton towels in beautiful colors.
44 We rented a boat called a gullet for 5 days sailing from Bodrum harbor to small islands around the Datca Peninsula. Each day we visited quaint fishing villages or walked in ancient ruins, like these in Knidos.
45 We anchored at Knidos in the harbor our first night. Knidos is a Hellenic city famous for its art and culture in 4th Century BC.
46 The gullet, named the MS Nikola, had 4 cabins, but we loved sleeping on the deck under the stars.
47 We sailed to the Greek island of Simi.
48 The houses are painted in bright color combinations and the harbor is lined with cafes and small shops.
49 Soroco, an adorable shop in Simi, sells beautiful handmade scarves and colorful espadrilles
50 Fisherman’s church and the remarkable stone walkway in Simi
51 Swimming and snorkeling was the best, with warm, clear, bright, blue water. We swam in a new cove every day.
52 Our captain, Ramazan, was always cheerful with boundless energy.
53 Martha Stewart Weddings is published in Turkey - With the Weddings team: Elif Sengul - Mktg Mgr, Icim Delemen - Exec Dir, and Nuket Mutlu - the owner of Mutlu Dergi Grubu A.S. (our partners), as well as the boat.
54 Nuket took Stephen and me on a boat ride in Bosphorus. Every home, palace, or embassy along the Asian side of the Bosphorus is enchanting.
55 The architecture ranges from elaborate Ottoman places to huge wooden houses built in the 18th and 19th centuries, to modern glass structures. Nuket’s small boat let us get close enough to see the architectural details.
56 The evening light is the best time to take a tour.