So, the thing is…

I’m going to Istanbul in April!!!

I am excited (delirious is more apt) for a number of reasons. Firstly, I have never been overseas. I know, it’s bizarre, and sometimes I almost can’t believe it myself. But now it’s happening. Secondly, I am stopping in London en route to a) meet my best friend Katy who I see once a year if I’m lucky and b) do a spot of shopping.

And when I say ‘a spot’, I mean the Reggie’s Rush of shopping; the cram-it-all-in, well-researched, tireless, tiring kind. I plan to come back fitted with all the pre-winter stuff that us South Africans long for: ankle boots that no one else has… edgy lace ups with wedge heels, velveteen shorts with scalloped hems, and a haul of vintage so large it’ll need its own suitcase on wheels. Packing lightly is really not my forte, but I am going to do my best to travel light and return laden.

And then…

I fly to Turkey to meet another best friend, Laura, who I haven’t seen since I was seventeen. That’s seven years worth of email, Facebooking and failed promises to meet all over the show. Laura was a German exchange student in Knysna for a year and we totally hit it off – we used to hole up in her outside room, snacking on her endless stash of Ritter Sports, listening to The Doors and puffing ineffectually but coolly on sneaky rollies around the corner by the washing line (sorry mom). It was amazing.

We are staying at Laura’s aunt’s house on the Bosphorous and I am beside myself with excitement, because Turkey has been on my wishlist ever since my parents returned from a trip there with a custom made leather biker jacket for an adolescent me (it was white, but this is a minor detail).

The final reason (besides the fact that Istanbul is fast becoming a fashion hot spot, and that it is home to leagues of vintage treasures) is the fact that I spent the whole of last year beating myself up about the fact that I hadn’t yet travelled. And that I was wasting time and would wind up regretting not having taken the wanderlust leap sooner. In true obscure Kate style, I saved the following image as my Blackberry desktop image, and vowed to leave it there until I actually got off my ass and did something about it:

And now the time has come. Being naturally inclined towards research, I have already immersed myself in all things Turkish. Spice markets, mosques, parks, public baths, ferries and museums… The grand bazaar; gleaming rows of tinkling bangles; piles of festooned Turkish slippers, upturned and pom-pommed; pastry boxes redolent with pastel-hued cubettes of Turkish delight; ornate ceilings, Kelims underfoot and the infamous Turkish traffic jams.

Turkey is well known for both its antiques and its leather. Things I plan to look out for include Ottoman-era metal belts and Turkish tribal jewelry, hand-painted Turkish tiles and the piece de resistancea tailor made leather garment. I’m thinking leather shorts, because I already have a leather skirt and a leather jacket. But leather shorts can be touch ‘n go and I don’t want to end up looking like Drew Barrymore circa 1995 (I love Drew, but bulky leather midriffs aint cool).  So I will approach the purchase with caution and detailed instruction. Apparently one can have something custom made in a matter of days for little more than the price of something straight off the rack. This makes me happy.

Another exciting point to take into account, is the fact that Istanbul is fast becoming a global source of fashion innovation and inspiration. The third Istanbul fashion week was rounded up just this week, and one needs just to have a browse on their impressive website and through Yvan Rodic aka The Facehunter’s images from IFW 2011 to see that things are heating up. I’ve selected a few of my favourites from his time in Istanbul, but do yourself a favour and go and view the rest here.

I think they really illustrate the vibrance and diversity of the city. I say I think because I don’t know. But I will soon, and you will hear allllll about it! The third Istanbul fashion week featured shows from 26 designers and was host to over 150 international members of the media – the cream of the world’s fashion fiends. International personalities that have been spotted at IFW since its inception in 2009 include SATC stylist Patricia Field, burlesque beauty Dita Von Teese, and models Alek Wek and Anya Rubik, amongst others.


Been to Turkey? If you have wisdoms to share with me – where to eat, drink, shop, stroll or party – please get in touch.


2 responses to “Turkiyeah!

  1. hey there,

    i live in istanbul, felt like giving some tips since you look reaallyy excited 🙂

    maybe of interest, march 18-april 26 is the period for the first istanbul shopping festival and there will be major events going on in the city, apart from hardcore shopping frenzy 🙂 the website is still half-way under construction, but i think it’d be a nice opportunity to meet the high-street turkish brands for you: http://www.istshopfest.com

    grand bazaar is always a must and remember, it’s like the first shopping center in the world so you HAVE TO bargain 🙂
    but i think tourists miss out the city if they got stuck in the historical peninsula. there’s history everywhere, anyway 🙂 prince islands (where cars are not allowed) are a great spring option if you have time, lucky for you, you have a friend here.
    galata is the new hot spot for young designers, they have small stores all over. asmali mescit is where the night life is – actually sometimes it’s too crowded for locals but babylon is a classic.

    well, make sure you get a ferry tour (vapur) to the asian side. in april, the judas trees blossom, so the city turns all purple and blue. judas tree is like the trademark of spring in istanbul. actually most of them were planted in byzantian era to “decorate” the city because purple was the royal color. i told you, everything is historical here, including trees 🙂

    what else? eat like hell. actually if you need an excuse to go to the asian side, go to çiya in kadiköy, and enjoy real ottoman cuisine. and either in kadiköy or eminönü or taksim, get your turkish delights from “ali muhiddin haci bekir” – the store is open till 1777 or something, they invented the delight.

    this is not an advertorial, tho i think it sounds like one 🙂 i’ve given these tips to almost 30 friends of mine ( one of whom was actually from south africa) who came to visit istanbul, they all had a nice time. get ready to drink cups of dark tea and of course, coffee.
    if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask, hospitality is like a genetic code here, we might even overdose.
    anyways, i wrote too much but i hope it’ll be of help. have a great time and don’t forget: the traffic sucks, but the street food rules.

    • Wowww – you rock! I smiled and smiled when I read your response. Thanks for takin’ the time to share all these cool things with me – I can’t wait! I will send you a proper response shortly. And I totally wish I understood your blog!


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