Dace Spring '13

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Spring hasn't exactly sprung in Paris yet, and we're nearly in June. As I write I'm looking out as a very threatening grey sky. So I thought I'd post something to cheer me up a little and Dace's Spring 2013 collection does just that. When I spotted Canadian brand Dace, I instantly felt at home, like every look had been designed just for me. I love the laid back, nonchalant ease with which these clothes are worn, yet each still very figure-flattering. They are beautifully-crafted basics, but with an edge that can be dressed up with accessories or worn everyday. I also love the simplicity of the styling - each look set against a white walk, upon concrete floor. Parfait. Favourite looks are the mustard, striped mint green and white dresses, as well as the mustard skirt. And I've got to get me a pair of those colourful socks too. 

Rifle Paper Co

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Image credit: Rifle Paper Co

I have a thing about cards. I love to send and receive birthday cards, postcards and just regular cheer-me-up cards. I've been known to tell my friends off when they don't get me birthday cards (I spend ages choosing what I think is the right card to suit their personality) and I've even scolded my boyfriend not once, but twice when he first didn't get me a Christmas card for our first Christmas together and then for the first birthday I spent with him last year. So this birthday, which was at the beginning of May (my 30th), he got his own back and sneakily messaged a load of my friends and asked them (I'm sure bullied in some cases) to send birthday cards for me to his office so he could surprise me with a whole stack when I got home. He even strung them up over the windows. It was very sweet and totally made my day.

Anyway, what I really wanted to talk about is the beautiful Florida based hand made card boutique, Rifle Paper Co. After reading owner and founder, Anna Bond's interview on EveryGirl (I know, I'm a little late to the party), I happily spent a bit too much time scrolling through the shop and then her blog. Here are a few of my favourite designs:

Petit Paris: Brocantes

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

It's been a little while since I've written a Petit Paris, which are basically little Paris tips I think might be useful, or just places I've discovered since living here. I've been meaning to write about the brocantes for a little while, as I've haven't been to nearly enough since I moved here and finally went to one on Saturday.

Brocantes (flea markets in English) spring up all over Paris, they are so frequent that there are various websites dedicated to them that give dates of where and when one will pop up next. Over the weekend there was one in the 20th just next to the Pere Lachaise, Paris' largest and most famous cemetery, where Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison, Proust and Modigliani among others are buried. The brocante stretched all the way down Boulevard de Menilmontant, where stalls upon stalls of furniture, lights, ceramics, kitchenware and jewellery were bursting at the seams with hidden treasures. I bought two glass jars, costing €4 each, which I cleaned up and have used to store tea in one and used corks in the other. I also found some lovely brown glass bottles, complete with stoppers, but they were a bit pricey. I could have haggled, but I felt content with the jars, for now...

There are a couple of good sites, first the Paris Mairie (Paris' City Hall) and Brocabrac, where you type in the city you're in and it gives you all the times, locations and what's for sale.

Happy hunting.

[photography by Marissa Cox]

Weekend Wish List #1: 24th May

Friday, 24 May 2013

As it's my first weekend in Paris after going on holiday, there's a lot I want to do and get done, so here's  my ideal weekend and a little guide of what's going on.

+ Friday: See Baz Luhrmann's Great Gatsby. The Great Gatsby is one of my favourite books. I studied it in secondary school and again at University - or visit the Chagall exhibition at the Musee du Luxembourg. The place is open 'til 10pm Friday nights.

Then join the Marathon Electronique - basically a bar hop around Oberkampf to Bellville where various artists will spin electronic tunes in each bar.

+ Saturday: go to the opening of Carsten Holler's new exhibition, Avec Carston Holler at Air de Paris, on from 6pm.

+ Sunday: brunch with friends and then have a good rummage around the Gambatta garage sale on Sunday or the brocante (flee market) happening in the 20th. In the evening I'd like to listen to live jazz at Les Idiots bar.

Turkey Part 2: Istanbul

Thursday, 23 May 2013

And so onto Istanbul. I've been wanting to visit the Turkish capital for ages and had high hopes for this colourful city rich with history and culture. I'm happy to report that despite a hair-raising taxi ride into the city, holding on for dear life that left me thinking, oh god what have we done, it exceeded my expectations.

Istanbul is by far the most interesting city I've ever visited, and that includes Prague, Paris, Rome, Madrid, London and more. We stayed in a beautifully-designed Airbnb flat on Bogazkesen in Beyoglu, a ten minute walk from the Galata Tower and five minutes from the main street Istiklal Avenue, which if you've been to Istanbul and walked down this large pedestrian avenue, you'll know exactly what the sight is like watching a sea of inhabitants and tourists promenading up and down in the evening. But back to our street, Bogazkesen. I'll go as far as saying it was the best street to stay on as there was so much on offer - cafes, restaurants, bars, shops and galleries.

So here's a little guide:

+ Best dinner places: Latife Hanim Meyhanesi - we had an amazing meal here. We booked it after reading a review in the Istanbul Time Out. It's a newish restaurant that's been designed to look like a traditional meyhane - make sure you try the Levrek Marin (sea bass), the stuffed vine leaves mezzes and the Kofte for main. We didn't eat here, but we had it on good authority (according to the book Istanbul Eats: Exploring the Culinary Backstreets - a great little local food guide) that Zubeyir Ocakbasi dished up perfect kebabs (it also happens to be on the same street as Latife).

+ Best for views - top of the Galata Tower, Topkapi Palace's panoramic terraces and at night try 360, just don't eat there if you're on a budget. The view is spectacular, but my glass of wine which consisted of two large mouthfuls cost 27TL (€15).

+ Cute cafe: Cheers Midtown Cafe on Bogazkesen. The owner makes a mean non-alcoholic spicy/ fruity cocktail and is really helpful. She also cooks up a good breakfast.

+ Dancing: Indigo - somehow we managed to join a bar crawl on our first night - we just followed some loud music into a backstreet and found a street full of bars - each competing to see who could play the loudest music. We were then given wristbands and followed a group from one bar to another and then Indigo Club. Needless to say I was a tad hungover on our first day of sightseeing!

+ Best wine bar: Solera Winery - ask the friendly waiters to recommend you a glass of turkish wine. I had a lovely cold glass of Narince (I think) and we ate some of the tapas that they have on offer. They bring the whole tray of around 10 right to your table, and then you just choose what you want.

+ Must sees: Topkapi Palace - and make sure you pay the extra 15TL to go in the Harem, this is by far the best bit in the palace; Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque (this is a working mosque, so may sure you wear appropriate clothing - they do provide head scarves for women, so no need to worry about buying one) and don't miss the Basilica Cistern - this is one of only two underground basilicas in the world (the other is in Israel). It's an unexpected amazing sight and a great escape from the heat.

+ Shop 'til you drop: in the Grand Bazaar. I purchased x3 pillow cases, x2 Turkish towels and numerous ceramics. A good place to eat lunch (if like me you're in there for a few hours) is the Peace Cafe in Cebeci Han. Buy spices, teas and dried fruit in the Spice Bazaar, or just wander around and take in the colours, sights and smells. I actually preferred the Spice Bazaar to the Grand Bazaar in terms of the colours and photo opportunities.

+ Orange & Pomegranate juice: there are tonnes of stalls selling fresh orange (usually 1TL) and pomegranate juice (3TL) and the cheaper ones are further away from the tourist spots. We bought cups of fresh orange juice from a cafe across the street from our flat and took it back to have with our breakfast every morning. I haven't consumed so much orange juice since I visited Morocco a couple of years ago.

My top Tips:

+ Pay the 75TL for the museum pass, it may sound like a lot, but we ended up spending that amount on all the places we visited anyway, and with the pass you avoid the queues for tickets and it's valid for three days.

+ Don't bother bringing heels - the roads are steep and a lot of them haven't been paved properly. I wore wedges on Saturday night and spent the whole time looking at the ground to make sure I didn't trip over something or fall down a hole.

+ Get to the sights early - try for 9am if you can to avoid the hoards of tourists. There are far more tourists visiting the Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace than you'll see at the Louvre.

[photography by Marissa Cox]

Turkey Part 1: Mediterranean Coast

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

I've just come back from an amazing 12 days in Turkey - easily one of the best countries in the world. We spent the first week exploring the Mediterranean coast, staying in Gulluk just north of Bodrum and then driving down to Kalkan on the way to Antalya, and then flew up to Istanbul for four nights. But first I'll talk about the coast. 

In Gulluk we stayed in the Med-Inn boutique hotel, a cute modern place that's very reasonable and perched right on the beach, with a lovely view of the bay and a wooden pier that stretches into the sea where you can sunbathe. Here's a mini guide of what to do in the area: 

+ Historical sites: don't miss Ephesus - the most beautifully-preserved classical city on the eastern Mediterranean coast. I suggest to get there early before it gets too busy. And May is actually a good time of year to go as it's not too hot.

+ Eat fresh fish and seafood. Pretty much every restaurant on the coast offers fresh grilled fish, prawns and calamaris, yum.

+ Drink Turkish coffee of tea. I opted for tea, as their coffee is thick as mud, but I'm told also rather tasty. I think I would have been climbing the walls after one sip. 

+ Grab lunch at: Gumus Cafe in Gumusluk (good name). This was a great little find. It's set away from the touristy cafes further down the incredibly calm bay and is small with only a few tables which are on   a little pier, meaning you literally dine over the sea. We ate the giant king prawns - see photo above, calamaris and a tasty salad - all brilliant.

+ In Bodrum dine at: Berk Balik, a no fuss fish restaurant that was the least touristy on the beach front.

Next we drove down to Kalkan where we booked into quite possibly the best hotel I've ever stayed in, the Fidanka Hotel. It was perfect in every way and looks like a giant tree house with flowers and greenery growing up the walls - I felt like Robinson Crusoe climbing the steps and then walking the little walkway to our room. All the rooms are constructed from wood - wooden floor, wooden bed, wooden bathroom, you get the picture - and we had the most amazing terrace with a stunning view over the bay (and a giant bath in the room - a must on holiday). There's also a lovely pool with a view. 

It also had a brilliant restaurant dishing up the best fried calamaris we ate all holiday - we would have quite happily eaten there every night had it not been a little pricey, and if we hadn't wanted to explore a little more. 

+ Best Beaches: Patara that's just north of Kalkan - one of the longest beaches in the Mediterranean -you'll pass some ruins on the road to the beach and then make sure you go to Kaputas (or blue) Beach - the most brilliant turquoise blue I ever seen - see photo above. 

+ Best historical sites: Pinara was by far the best site this end of the coast and we were probably 2 of only 6 tourists there, probably because it's off the beaten track. You have to drive off a very stoney road (if you could call it a road) to get there. It's then quite a trek up to the base of the mini mountain where all the old dwellings are, along a tiny path that involves quite a bit of climbing, but it's totally worth it. And there's an incredible view. (Perhaps not a good place to take sprogs if you have them). Also Letoon is pretty good - bit like a mini Ephesus. Of course once we'd seen Ephesus, there's nothing comparable.  

+ Don't miss: Kas - a pretty fishing town with a cute marina further south down the coast. We visited in the evening and had dinner at Naturel, after reading brilliant reviews on Trip Advisor, and we'll admit the food was excellent - try their homemade pasta and Kofte - a turkish favourite. 

(Photos by Marissa Cox)

Proudly designed by Mlekoshi playground