gone sailing

One of my longtime dreams has been to go sailing. To experience the open seas, rising with the sun and rocked to sleep by the light of the moon. I had overcome my fear of water by learning how to scuba dive in Thailand. When one of my dearest friends (being in possession of a 47 foot sailboat) suggested we sail the Aegean Sea this summer, how could we resist? In late August we flew to Bodrum, Turkey and sailing adventures began.

IMG_9147 IMG_9210With plenty of wind, we set out to explore the charming Turkish coastal villages.

IMG_9280Often, in sight of a hidden paradise, we would anchor in the middle of the sea and swim.

IMG_9314IMG_9296 What I loved most was sitting aboard the boat, passing one beautiful vista after another.

IMG_9306The “captain” showed me the ropes and even let me sail. What a pleasure it was!

IMG_9413Most evenings were spent dining on land, the sunset marking the end of a memorable day.

IMG_9434Before we returned to Turgutreis, we stopped to explore Ancient Greek ruins of Knidos.

IMG_9564It was here that we discovered one of the most beautiful “ancient” swimming spots.

IMG_9550Our sailing trip was a great success, confirming my love for the sport. Five days and nights on the Aegean, adjusting to sleeping in a small cabin surrounded by noises and motions of the sea, staying calm while the yacht tipped to one side. What I can well describe as a thrill! I’m already looking forward to the next sailing adventures… But first the Greek Isles. A destination that my Italian and I have grown to call paradise. Next stop Symi & Rhodes…

the grandest bazaar

IMG_6481 One of my favorite places to get lost in Istanbul is the Grand Bazaar. I could spend hours walking the ancient aisles, searching for souvenirs, spices, sweets… With 61 streets in one of the world’s largest & oldest covered markets, and 3,000 shops, there is plenty to see!

IMG_6488  Most of the salesmen try to entice you into their shop, “Lady, one minute to look!” I smile.

IMG_6500But it’s the fabrics that I am after. Two years ago I first fell in love with ikat prints and designed my Istanbul Collection. What else could I have called it? On this trip, I fell in love again, with the newest assortment of silks in vibrant colors and prints. It was tough to choose! After a friendly chat about life in France, and the cost of sending kids to private schools in Turkey, over a cup of tea of course, I selected fabrics for a new collection.IMG_6512I can’t wait to create new clutches! Keep an eye out via instagram and facebook

art of the hammam

On my recent trip to Istanbul, my friend and I decided to indulge in the Turkish bath culture, the hammam. In the tradition of physical and spiritual purification, the body is cleansed and purified from toxins, blood circulation increases and the immune system is stimulated. I had tried a few hammams in my day, but this one, the Ayasofya built in 1556, was special.IMG_6259Historically, hammams were social centers where special occasions were often celebrated.

IMG_6238Most hammams had spiritual components, and in many cases, washing was an essential part of worship. Through religious influence, hammams became a part of everyday life.

IMG_6240The sicaklik (also known as the hararet, caldarium or hot room) is a large marble-tiled room with a Göbek tasi (marble slab called a belly or navel stone). Here the soaping takes place.

IMG_6244I lay on the heated surface post scrubbing, and experienced my first bubble massage.

IMG_6254We had the hammam to ourselves, and I could have spent hours dreaming beneath the ancient starry ceiling, intoxicated by the warmth of the marble and the heavenly massage.

IMG_6255Alas, it was time to go as I was abruptly woken from the dream. Next stop, Grand Bazaar.

love in the city of spices

If I moved to Istanbul, this is what I would call my blog, love in the city of spices. Or perhaps love of the city of spices, as this is a city that I have a great fondness for,  and cannot even begin to describe exactly why. Istanbul is a place that must be experienced from the inside, with it’s rich history and rapid modernization. Certainly a cultural mecca. But alas, my story is being written in Paris, and it is my dear friend Karen (with whom I have shared many an adventure in our 20 years of friendship) that is living beneath the minarets.


My first visit to Istanbul had been during my year of travel, I ran around the city in a daze, completely taken with the sights, sounds and tastes. On that trip I woke up in Asia and spent my days in Europe. This transcontinental life can only be possible in Istanbul.


On this trip, my Italian’s first to Istanbul, we were lucky to be in the company of Karen and her husband (and two darling Turkish-American daughters). Emre, being a part-time professional tour guide, gave us a tour to remember. From the Blue Mosque to the Hagia Sophia, to the Grand Bazaar to the Spice Market, with many secret stops along the way.  What better introduction?


The interior of the Hagia Sophia is a sight to behold, with a ceiling of gold.


On my last visit, I barely stepped foot in the Topkapi Palace. On this trip we spent hours exploring this, the primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans for around 400 years. Enchanting!




But it was the time with friends that provided the most memories. Many a night was spent over dinner with a view, catching up on our lives in two very unique and contrasting cities.


And it was with Karen and Emre that we traveled from Europe to Asia.


Dinner with a view.


So much more to see, feel and taste! Already we are looking forward to the next visit…


Every morning I wake up in Asia and take the ferry across the Bosphorus strait to Europe. Istanbul is the only metropolis in the world which is situated on two continents. Once called Constantinople, this city is deeply steeped in history, having served as the capital city of the Roman Empire (330-395), the Byzantine Empire (395-1204 and 1261-1453), the Latin Empire (1204-1261), and the Ottoman Empire (1453-1922). This city is filled with colors, cats and sights that are simply breath-taking.A mosque in the lovely neighborhood of Ortakoy.

The Topkapi Palace, home to the Ottoman sultans for nearly four centuries.

The Underground Cistern was known as the Basilica Cistern during the Roman period. After the conquest of the city by the Ottoman Turks, it was forgotten of and nobody knew that it existed. Re-discovered in 1545, it was used to water the gardens of Topkapi Palace. Today it has an eery and mystical ambiance with fish dancing in its waters.

The grandest of Grand Bazaars, where many a treasure can be found…

The Hagia Sophia, built by Justinian between 532 and 537, is widely regarded as the masterpiece of Byzantine architecture. It was the largest cathedral ever built for more than a thousand years, until the completion of the Seville Cathedral in 1575, during the Renaissance.

The Blue Mosque, one of the most impressive structures in the world! According to legend, Sultan Ahmet I wanted to have a minaret made of gold which is “altin” in Turkish. The architect misunderstood him as having said “alti” which means “six” in English. The architect fearfully asked “am I going to be beheaded?”. Luckily, the Sultan Ahmed I loved the minarets. Prior to that time, no sultan had a mosque with 6 minarets.

full of hot air

This morning I greeted the dawn, high above the volcanic peaks of Cappadocia in a hot air balloon. What a sensation to float amidst these rocky pinnacles lit in golden hues by the rising sun! It’s no wonder this experience is on the list of 1,000 things to do before you die.