Archive for December, 2011

  • Vapur I: timeless travel.

    December 29th, 2011

    AN ISTANBUL VAPUR. THE MOST CIVILIZED FORM OF PUBLIC TRANSIT IN THE WORLD?

    What would Istanbul be without the Bosporus? The Golden Horn? The Black Sea? The Marmara? To be honest, I don’t want to know.

    One of the great pleasures of this city is the ability to travel by water. Not only can it be a lot more efficient than using the automobile-clogged intercontinental bridges, it feels refreshingly unhurried—moreover there’s something about being onboard that alters your mindset. Sure there are people chattering on mobiles, plugged into iPods, but the overriding experience—stewards carrying trays full of  piping hot tea glasses clattering on porcelain saucers, massive Russian freighters blotting out the mosques, yalis and seaside palaces that fill the landscape, and the quiet indifference of the passengers reading, talking, sleeping as it all slides by—that somehow alters my perception of time and space.

    The sense of wonder onboard overrides any form of creative block I might be experiencing. I simply hop on a vapur, order a tea, and read the stories on the faces of the passengers who make the crossing between continents part of their daily ritual.

    COMMUTERS ON THE WAY TO EMINÖNÜ.

    You start to notice odd things too. Like the fact that dolphin pods prefer palaces. Twice now I’ve seen them, once below Topkapi and the next time by Dolmabahçe. You’re also reminded of a cityscape unlike any other in the world, something which is no less than epic.

    KADIKÖY TO KARAKÖY.

    You also have the choice of being inside or out. In the hotter months, particularly after a sweltering day in the close streets, clearing your head on deck is the sort of relief that no air conditioner can provide.

    MORNING TRAFFIC CONSISTS OF FISHING BOATS, FREIGHTERS, TANKERS AND OTHER FERRIES.

    UPDATED FOR THE 21st CENTURY, AN ISTANBUL VAPUR STILL LOOKS AND FEELS MUCH LIKE IT DID IN EARLIER TIMES.

    It’s hard not to get inspired. If you let it, the blasts of briny air, the clatter of the gulls, the huddled couples, the curious looks help clear the chaos from your head, and let your thoughts wander where they need to … not something that ever happened when I was crammed into somebody’s armpit on the bus.

    Can you imagine a more romantic form of public transit?

  • The Hermetic Museum Alchemy & Mysticism

    December 26th, 2011

    © 2011 TASCHEN GmbH

    Santa Claus has many powers, but he’s not a mind reader. That’s why I had to give myself a little Christmas present today after discovering The Hermetic Museum: Alchemy & Mysticism by Alexander Roob at my local bookstore. As you’d expect from a Taschen book it’s lavishly illustrated, and by far the most appealing visual guide to alchemy I’ve had in my hands. Its author, who studied painting at the University of Fine Arts, Berlin has been teaching at the Academy of Fine Arts, Stuttgart since 2002.

    In my opinion, no self-respecting student of alchemy should be without it.

    www.taschen.com

     © 2011 TASCHEN GmbH

    © 2011 TASCHEN GmbH

     © 2011 TASCHEN GmbH

  • Karaköy: long shadows, deep color.

    December 23rd, 2011

    SLANTED SHADOWS AND PLENTY OF LOCAL COLOR ENLIVEN AN ALLEYWAY OUTSIDE A MOSQUE.

    Kara means black in Turkish and köy means village. Despite its somewhat ominous sounding name, however, Karaköy is brimming with local color. Being waterside and full of great, yet often derelict properties, it’s also caught the eye of both local and international developers. But somehow it hasn’t lost its authenticity as a thriving neighborhood full of everyday locals, so it easily tops my list as one of the most compelling corners of the city. For me its back alleyways summon the mood of old Ara Güler photographs, somehow dense with feeling and full of character.

    NEW CAFES AND SHOPS ARE APPEARING IN FORMERLY RUN DOWN BUILDINGS.

    Read More…

    Posted in Places | | 1 Comment
  • THAT MAGAZINE: worth looking and looking for?

    December 21st, 2011

    OCTOBER 2011 — My burning red eye lights upon a small blurb in Monocle Magazine telling me about the existence of an English language publication out of Istanbul, aimed at helping the local community of English speakers to “CONNECT, CREATE, EXPLORE and LIVE GOOD.”

    What! I nearly shout, leaping from my seat, nearly toppling the table. Read More…

  • Volumes of silence, Part II.

    December 20th, 2011

    ESCAPING THE MIDDAY CRUSH. FROM THE BOSPORUS TO THE SEA OF MARMARA.

    How and where do you find quiet, urban dwellers? Do you or don’t you? I love city life, but it’s so easy to get distracted, sucked into a vortex of sound, movement and confusion. Do you go to a library, do yoga, get a massage, or instead clamp on the headphones  and blast out all the other noise with your preferred brand of clamor? I’m interested. Do you find quiet? Is it enough? Read More…

  • The power of the rose.

    December 19th, 2011

    JAYDA URAS SPECIALIZES IN TINCTURES, TEAS AND INDIVIDUALIZED TREATMENTS.

    Jayda Uras, owner and operator of Vie En Rose creates fully organic treatments with locally sourced ingredients produced just outside Yalova, believing that anything you put on your body should be just as pure as anything you put in it. When conventional medicine failed to provide adequate answers in her own life, she chose a different course. I sat down with her the other day to discuss her alternative brand of medicine and where her inspiration came from.

    ORGANIC HANDMADE SOAP.

    Read More…

  • The Hidden Han.

    December 13th, 2011

    THIS HAN IS HOME TO SILVERSMITHS AND OTHER METAL WORKERS’ WORKSHOPS.

    I stumbled into this old han back in the summer and have since returned. It’s exactly the sort of place that makes me love Istanbul. Located in Sultanahmet it’s out of the way, cracked and crumbling, easily overlooked but still thriving with life. Part of the reason I’m being vague about its name and location is because I’m afraid some crass developer will come in, knock it down and plunk some horrible hotel or shopping mall in its place.

    AN ALATURCA LAMP-MAKER’S WORKSHOP.

    Right now it’s home to all sorts of ustalar (tradesmen)mainly working in metals like silver, copper and brass. There’s a massive courtyard in the center, and just about every bolt hole is occupied by some form of life or trade. Read More…

  • The Emerald Tablet.

    December 12th, 2011

    “THOTH” BY VERITY HEYSEN KIZEK © Verity Heysen Kizek.

    Read More…

  • Çukurcuma: a garden of antique delights.

    December 11th, 2011

    ASLAN IS HERE, BUT THIS ISN’T QUITE NARNIA.

    If you want to pore over relics from the near and distant past for inspiration, amusement or serious resale, there’s a treasure trove right in the middle of Istanbul.

    ISTANBUL’S ANTIQUE DISTRICT IS FULL OF HIDDEN GEMS, INCLUDING THE BUILDINGS.

    Yet despite its charm, I’ve pointedly circumnavigated Çukurcuma (Chu-kur-juma) until recently. Read More…

  • Dhoku: rugs, reborn.

    December 11th, 2011

    RUGS FROM ALL OVER ANATOLIA AWAITING A NEW LIFE.

    RUGS FROM ALL OVER ANATOLIA AWAITING A NEW LIFE.

    One of Turkey’s most creative enterprises resurrects classic designs for a new century by taking rundown rugs, hard-done-by halis, and death row kilims and rehabilitating them for a chance to be trodden on all over again by the well-heeled.

    AFTER DYEING, SATURATED ANACHRONS ARE LEFT TO DRY IN THE SUN.

    AFTER VEGETABLE-DYEING, SATURATED ANACHRONS DRY IN THE SUN.

    Five years ago it wasn’t always easy to find something genuinely Turkish and interesting for the home which was also genuinely different. Moreover, finding something to give to a Turk, who grew up surrounded by what a foreigner might consider new and exotic was even more of a challenge. Then an actress friend and neighbor introduced me to Mehmet Gureli and his original Ethnicon line of patchwork kilims. Read More…