Tuesday, May 31, 2011

bokja, lebanon:

So this post is little bit different to the others we have been sharing with you. I want to show you our visit to the amazing Bokja store in Beirut.
Some of you may recall that I did a really short and sweet post (it was when I first started the blog, so I was a bit shy!) on Bokja, the design duo from Beirut who, working alongside artisans, re-upolster furniture in vintage Middle Eastern and Central Asian textiles. For me this is a match made in heaven! Mixing beautiful, vibrant textiles and furniture to create a completely unique piece for an interior. So when I found out their store was in Beirut it was even more of a MUST that we go there.
Lucky for us we were staying nearby in Gemmayze with only a ten minute walk up to the lovely Saifi Village - home to some of the coolest shops we have seen on our trip so far.
I want to thank lovely Tracey for letting me take photos in the store and for been so kind and giving us some really awesome recommendations for our stay Beirut.
I'll be saving like crazy once we finish the trip so we can get one one of these beautiful pieces. They look even more stunning in real life. So if you are in Beirut, please do stop by and have look - otherwise make sure you go their website and have a swoon.

Also this was my very first time shooting a store, and I must say it was a little bit challenging! I'm not spatially minded at all - so I hope the photos do it justice.

Enjoy the beautiful work of Bokja and I hope it brings some colour to your day.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

beirut, lebanon:

Sorry we haven’t posted anything on Lebanon yet! We’re at the airport right now about to leave…
Below are some photos from our meanderings around Beirut, just so you can get a taste. We want to write a proper post where we can share more about the history and our experience here. That will come soon I promise, I just want to make sure we do it justice. But to be straight to the point, we LOVE Lebanon! And are very sad to be leaving. But we will be back.
We’re off to Jordan right now - the trip is starting to go really quickly - we’re five weeks into it already. Trying not to think about that too much however.
Until then, enjoy the photos!

battle scars all over the city - this was where we were staying

cool mix of French and Arabic

the best hummus we have had EVER - and we've had some hummus in our time!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

where we're at:

Since Monday evening we have been in Beirut, Lebanon. We have fallen in love with the place and have extended our stay from four days to seven. Lebanon is quite a small country, so we are using Beirut as our base.  
One of the reasons we wanted to visit Lebanon in the first place was the food - it is one of our favourites - so we are on a bit of a mission to eat as much amazing Lebanese food as possible! We haven't been disappointed! Will post more in the next few days.

Gemmayzeh area in Beirut

turkey wrap up:

What an amazing country! We were both we really looking forward to visiting Turkey, and it didn’t disappoint at all.
In fact I think I can safely say it has it all. Super friendly, genuine and helpful people, amazing food, bazaars and heaps of great shopping, loads of culture, the beautiful Aegean and Mediterranean Seas to the west, Black Sea to the north, plus an incredible history that spans thousands of years and some of the most interesting civilisations that existed.
There is so much to see and experience, we definitely will be back in the near future and would like to head further east and go into Iran.
We also found Turkey to be incredibly affordable and a great value for money destination (the strong Aussie dollar certainly helps).
So if you are thinking of heading to Turkey, do it! You won’t be disappointed at all.

where we went...

Below are a few tips from our Turkey travels:

We travelled around using buses, some overnight an others only a for a couple of hours. Turkey has an excellent bus network that links most towns and cities. It's a great way of seeing the country side in the day and is also very affordable. If catching an overnight bus though, pack some ear plugs, sleeping mask and inflatable neck cushion! Plus some snacks/drinks.
Istanbul also has a great light rail system that is cheap, reliable and frequent. A great way of getting around the city.

self-portrait on the metro

We chose to eat at mostly small cafés that were busya nd frequented by locals, rather than big touristy restaurants. This was far more more affordable and the food was amazing. To compare prices, a meal at a tourist aimed restaurant cost approximately  $50 for two (which is still quite affordable) but compare that to a meal such as gozleme or stuffed aubergine at a local café, this only cost around $7 for two (including drinks and salad)! There are many yummy meals and foods to try in Turkey, these were some of our favourites: borek, gozleme, fish sandwiches, kofte, kebabs, anything with aubergine, pide, baklava, rice pudding and Turkish delight.

gozleme - like a crepe, with many options for fillings.

We highly recommend the Peninsula Hotel in Istanbul. It was probably our favourite hotel on the entire trip. 45 euro got you a basic but clean, comfortable room with wi-fi and super friendly service. Plus it was a five minute walk to the blue Mosque and Aya Sofia. Another favourite was the Shoe String Cave hotel in Goreme (Cappadocia). Don’t let the name fool you -  the cave rooms were lovely and service incredibly helpful.

Shopping is my other passion when travelling (the other been photography of course), and Turkey is home to some fantastic shopping.  From carpets to beautiful jewellery, it has it all.
If a carpet or a kilim is what you are after:
  •  do a little bit of research before you go so you have a little bit of an idea of what you are after, also if there are any particular shops you may want to visit. It can be an overwhelming process, but there are genuine and sincere carpet sellers out there who are not out there to rip you off.
  • if the price seems really high, that’s probably because they want you to bargain.
  • don’t ever feel pressured to buy anything, enjoy having a tea, looking at their collection (working out what you like) and learning about carpets in the process. It’s all obligation free and can be a lot of fun.

If shopping for items in the grand bazaar or similar:
  • have a look around as multiple stores sell the same thing. Get them to quote you a price so you can kind of gauge where the best deal is.
  • once you find the cheapest price quoted, go back and start at a quarter of the price stated. If you can get the item for a third or half of what was originally quoted and you are happy with it, you’ve done well.
  • remember business is all about being win/win for both parties so everyone should be happy in the end. You don’t want to feel ripped off, neither does the vendor, they need to make a profit too.
the grand bazaar

The Turks are a super friendly and helpful bunch of people who can have a laugh with. So try not to let yourself be too closed off and untrusting. Trust them and be friendly – even to the touts! Andrew was really good at this, often joking and just saying hi back to those who were trying to sell him something, rather than the no eye contact, no thanks attitude (I was guilty of doing this at first). We met some super cool people by being open for a chat, so it was worth letting our guard down and being trusting. We weren't ever let down. Everyone did their utmost to help us out and ensure our stay in Turkey was brilliant.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

ephesus, turkey:

So despite suffering from ruin fatigue after visiting  Hierapolis, Ephesus still was incredibly impressive! It is an ancient Greek city, which later became a major Roman city, on the west coast of Turkey. During the Roman period, it was for many years the second largest city of the Roman Empire coming in behind Rome. It had a population of more than 250,000 in the 1st century BC, which also made it the second largest city in the world. It was pretty cool to be able to walk through an actual ancient city and it made me wish that I could time travel back to see it in its hey day - it would have been amazing. I must also mention how great it is to be travelling with an architect husband! The details he notices and information he adds has been really handy. I would have missed a lot if wasn’t for Andrew.

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