I never feel more at ease and relaxed away from home than I do in Istanbul. Everything about this sprawling metropolis excites me, from the fabulous historic architecture, to the food and the people who welcome with open arms and warming smiles.
Turkey is fast becoming a more and more popular holiday destination for Brits and Europeans alike, partly due to the great value for money and fabulous exchange rate on the Turkish Lira, but mostly due to word of mouth created by the great experiences found in the country.
Straddling the Bosphorus, ever expanding into both Europe and Asia, Istanbul has been welcoming travellers for thousands of years, throughout the Ottoman and Byzantine eras of its growth, throughout wars which have shaped its and Europes culture and until the present day. These travellers will have all witnessed the hospitality and grand sights Istanbul has to offer.
Not to sound cliched, but I enjoy nothing more than finding a little cafe or restaurant and ordering a big plate of lamb koftas, washed down with Turkish tea. Now the tea won’t be to everybodies taste, but the food is some of the best I have tasted anywhere in the world. No matter if you pay 5 or 50 Turkish Lira, you will get the same care and presentation from the chef whatever meal you have. They care so much, they want to make a good impression do you’ll go home and tell all your friends of the great time you had in Turkey.
The homely feeling doesn’t just stop with the people, if you are looking for a good stay and relaxing surroundings, a grand hotel Istanbul can give to you. I especially like the Hilton Hotels over there, despite being a large chain it still has that authentic local feel without taking anything away from the comfort and service of a luxury corporate hotel.
Once you have had your fill of Istanbul, and trust me it will take a long time, there are many reasons people don’t leave, then you can spread your wings across Turkey and take in the more rural sights and sounds. Turkey is fast becoming one of my favourite countries to visit, there are so many things to see and do, and I will enjoy writing about them again and again!
I love to travel as we all know, but I also love movies. Especially those little-known independent movies that don’t appeal to all or may not make it into the mainstream of a national release. It is then of great joy to me that I am going to the Sundance London Film and Music Festival at the end of this month, at The O2 Arena.
If you aren’t aware of Sundance, it is a charity institute founded in the early 1980s by Robert Redford as a platform for independent artists to explore there genre and promote their productions, which then became the Sundance Group in 1988 incorporating different branches and types of media.
The London Sundance Festival is very exciting, as it showcases and gives UK Premieres to just 14 movies that have been specially selected from the 120 that were shown at the main Sundance Festival in January, so hopefully all very good and worthwhile independent movies. One film I am definitely looking at seeing is ’2 Days In New York’, a new film directed and starring Julie Delpy and also starring Chris Rock. Its a strange mix of actor and possible film subject, so I am going open minded for hopefully some french -styled cinema education!
As is usually my style for these things I am staying for a couple of days in the city, and have found some great hotels in North London, which will make my time that bit more luxurious. Making the trip from North London to Greenwich over the weekend will be a nice way to wake me up for the day of movie viewing ahead! I thoroughly recommend you even try and catch one screening at the festival if you are in the area, but it is also and amazing excuse to visit London and get some modern culture in your soul!
Of course if you are into your music as well as your movies, then Sundance also provides a lot of one-off incredible intimate gigs. Nothing personally suited to my tastes, but Rufus and Martha Wainwright performing together, Tricky giving a rare performance of his debut album as well as others, there must be something for almost every musical connoisseur. Apart from me!