Corsica, an Island off of France

Corsica, France | Fig + Honey

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted about my travels on the blog so I thought I should share beautiful Corsica with you. I’ve been stockpiling pictures from our holidays because life has been crazy, but it’s about time I told you about this beautiful island with its own very distinct personality!

Corsica is a little island in the Mediterranean just south of Italy and technically a part of France, though the locals would much prefer they were a country on their own! I like to think of it as a hidden gem as it is not overun with tourist as some of the Med islands can be. Not only that, the Corsican culture and traditions are still largely ingrained in the locals.

Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey

The thing I was not expecting was the incredible blue crystal clear water and the beautiful soft sandy beaches. One would think they’ve landed themselves in the Maldives or somewhere equally exotic. So clear and blue that you didn’t even need a snorkel to see the beautiful sealife at your feet. There’s little better than hiking through the marquis (the native plants that cover the island) and finding yourself a little private beach to lay out on the whole day.

Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + HoneyCorsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey

For the days you don’t feel like laying on the beach (I’m not sure how you can resist) there is so much to explore inland. There are so many tiny villages nestled into the mountains, it’s incredibly difficult to decide which ones to see. If only we had enough time to see them all! It was amazing how slow the life was in the villages and how untouched they really felt. We spent time just wandering about and enjoying a coffee or some lunch in the most picturesque locations. When you’re bored (really??) of the little villages you can always take a visit to the larger towns of Calvi and L’ile Rousse. Though far more touristy, they’re beautiful in their own rights. Calvi is built into the hillside and has an amazing Citadel at the very top with the most incredible views. It’s a bit of a hike, but you feel as though you’ve been transported back in time visiting it.

Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey
Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey

We prefered the more relaxed and less traveled parts of Corsica and made an effort to find the hidden beaches, tiny roadside fruit and veg stands and little restaurants. When we weren’t eating, drinking or lounging – we were exploring the countryside on the most amazing driving roads! What I would give to be back! 

Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey  Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey

Where We Stayed

Pietra Nova

A super unique home located just below the mountains and two minutes from the sea. The most beautiful views of the mountains, the bay and the village just from sitting out on the deck. Definitely recommended for a super relaxing time made all the better by the friendliest host – Nathalie!

Where We Ate

Le Matahari

We ended up eating here multiple times during our stay in Corsica we enjoyed it so much. The food was delicious and the staff was gracious (especially with our minimal french). However, the best part was definitely the views. Sitting right down by the water at sunset in the sand is an experience you don’t get to enjoy every day! Missing it already!

Le Pain de Sucre

This is another place just on the beach and perfect for lunch. You can lounge on the beach right out in front all day and come here for a bit of food after. Love the beachy vibe and beautiful views!

Occi

A tiny bar located in the equally tiny town of Lumio. No frills food but beautiful views!

Via Marine

A cute little restaurant located in Calvi with delicious pizza and great views!

La Table

Michelin 1 star restaurant located at the Hotel La Villa. Amazing food and great service – definitely a treat!

Where We Went

L’Ile Rousse

A bustling little seaside town just down the road from where we stayed. Hosts a little farmers market some days of the week and lots of open air seating to enjoy a coffee and watch the world go by.

Calvi

A much larger town than L’ile Rousse, incredibly hilly and slightly more touristy. Worth a visit to see the amazing citadel and the views from the top. We stopped for coffee and ice cream as well as back one of the nights for some pizza!

Hotel La Villa

Beautiful Spa and perfect for massages and a relaxing day. Amazing grounds and views of the bay all tied in with very attentive service. Eat at the restaurant and you won’t be disappointed!

Costa Rica

Costa Rica | Fig & Honey
Costa Rica | Fig & Honey
Costa Rica | Fig & Honey
Costa Rica | Fig & Honey

Very recently I was lucky enough to visit the beautiful country of Costa Rica for a family holiday. We were celebrating big birthdays and new additions to the family and were all in need of a bit of R&R! Though, I must say that it looks like I got a bit more of the R&R than intended and forgot about my camera much of the time. However, when I could drag myself away from the beach, pool and the wildlife I managed to get some shots for you to see!

Costa Rica | Fig & Honey
Costa Rica | Fig & Honey
Costa Rica | Fig & Honey
Costa Rica | Fig & Honey
Costa Rica | Fig & Honey

If you haven’t been before, you must add this country to the top of your list! The people are incredibly friendly, the country is very safe, the wildlife is amazing and all around you and the scenery is just beautiful. Though naively I thought that the whole country was somewhat of a rainforest, we ended up staying in a very dry part which looked a bit like Africa. However, closer to the coast things got a bit greener and we were able to make a couple trips out to the more rainforesty areas.

Costa Rica | Fig & Honey
Costa Rica | Fig & Honey
Costa Rica | Fig & Honey
Costa Rica | Fig & Honey
Costa Rica | Fig & Honey
Costa Rica | Fig & Honey
Costa Rica | Fig & Honey
Costa Rica | Fig & Honey

Waking up to the dawn chorus every morning was like nothing else. Parrots squawking away along with howler monkeys making prehistoric sounds make it hard not to wake up early. The jetlag definitely helped! Though I loathe waking up early while at home, it is my absolute favorite thing to do while on holiday. Who can resist a cup of tea and a good book in the early hours before the rest of the house is awake?

Costa Rica | Fig & Honey
Costa Rica | Fig & Honey
Costa Rica | Fig & Honey
Costa Rica | Fig & Honey
Costa Rica | Fig & Honey

We did a little bit of everything while in Costa Rica, however most of it was centered around the wildlife. It was hard not to care about it when it is almost everywhere you look. The little white faced capuchin monkeys were my favorite, swinging from the trees right behind our house. However, when I think of Costa Rica, I think of colorful birds and I was hoping to see at least one toucan before I left. After a lovely rainforest hike with a few waterfalls to cool off in, we were able to a few toucans eating mangoes high upi in the trees and it was just amazing. Toucan Sam crossed off the list!

Costa Rica | Fig & Honey
Costa Rica | Fig & Honey
Costa Rica | Fig & Honey
Costa Rica | Fig & Honey
Costa Rica | Fig & Honey
Costa Rica | Fig & Honey

I feel like we were only about to scratch the surface of what Costa Rica has to offer and hope that I’ll be able to return again one day to see more!

Costa Rica | Fig & Honey

The French Alps

French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey

Most winters all I can think about is escaping to a sunny spot in the world and feeling the warm sun on my back. Images of a beach side villa opening up onto a white sands and clear waters are what dreams are made of. So venturing further into a snowy winterland is most often not on my radar. However, after visiting the Alps during the winter my mind has most definitely changed.

French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey

Though I was in love with the Alps during the summer, I must say that winter is even more breathtaking (if that’s even possible!) We made our way to Chamonix, a beautiful little city in the French Alps and spent our time eating fondue and baguettes, enjoying the view of the mountains from a warm cafe. Even if you’re not a huge winter sports fan (I can’t remember the last time I strapped on some ski’s), it’s just as lovely soaking in the cozy atmosphere of the little alpine villages.

French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey

Though Chamonix had no snow, we took the Aiguille du Midi cable car all the way to the top of the mountain where we were able to see the Alps in all their snowy glory. It is an amazing feeling being up so high in the world and amongst these majestic beasts. You quite literally feel as though you’re on top of the world which is a feeling I highly recommend! The sun is incredibly intense all the way up in the sky and could possibly be sunnier than sitting on a beach! However, far colder! I must say being so high and being able to look out onto such an extreme landscape really humbles you and reminds you that there is much more to the world that exists in your view.

French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey

Anyway, enough with the words- I’ll let the images speak for themselves!

French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey

Travel | The Fjords of Norway

Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey

I can count on one hand the number of times that I’ve been to the middle of nowhere, which I find quite surprising. I’ve always thought I’m more of a city girl, but the more of the world I see, the more I’m drawn to the serene beauty of nature. Though Paris, London and Melbourne will always hold a place in my heart, the middle of nowhere is becoming more and more enticing to me. Norway very much fits the bill and is probably one of the more secluded places I’ve been, next to being on safari in South Africa. So when it came time to find the perfect getaway for our wedding anniversary, Norway was top on our lists.

Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey

I fell in love with the dramatic landscapes that we saw at every turn in Norway. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more breathtaking, you’d stumble across another perfectly still fjord reflecting the mountains, sky and everything around it. Though the fjords are the most famous, the landscape changes dramatically as you move closer to the ocean and as you move inland towards the mountains. It is always so tranquil and it’s hard not to find a bit of peace of mind while there.

Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey

When there are very few villages for miles and miles in each direction, finding food is a tad bit difficult. You always need to have a plan (which is usually rare for me) and know that often picnics are usually a great option! A bit of cheese, crackers, nuts and cherry tomatoes actually make a yummy lunch when you’re sitting by the side of the road soaking in the views. But when you do find a village or city, you can be sure the food is deliciously traditional and very hearty. A lamb stew or a fish pie on a cold evening is just what the doctor ordered, but creamy fish soup or bacalao (dried salted cod) is also welcomed! The great thing is that most places we ate at took pride in carrying on the tradition of eating off the land and sourcing local. It’s always exciting to see chefs interested about the life cycle of the food they cook and being passionate about serving traditional Norwegian fare. It also means that you can expect mostly fresh, smoked and salted fish as well as lamb and reindeer for your meals!

Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey

We ended up taking a risk and venturing up to this beautiful country on the off season. And though Norway’s national tourist board really doesn’t advertise the autumn as a good time to visit, I would wholly recommend it. If you manage to time it right (we just got lucky) you can see the leaves change from green to beautiful yellows, oranges and reds. The landscape is completely transformed and is undoubtedly breathtaking. We couldn’t stop taking pictures even though they never seem to accurately capture the beauty of the place. We got really lucky with a bit of warm weather and since it was low season, we had the roads and the beautiful nature virtually to ourselves. Perfection!

Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey

Recommendations:

Juvet Landscape Hotel | Hotel | One of the most unique hotels we’ve stayed in so far. Made up of minimal cabins placed in the middle of nature overlooking a perfectly blue stream coming straight from the mountains above it. The most amazing views from enormous glass windows give you a private view of breathtaking nature. Great place to forget your worries and

Storfjord Hotel | Hotel | A beautiful luxury hotel set high up above Storfjord with a breathtaking view of the Sunnmore Alps. Very friendly and attentive staff and beautifully decorated rooms. The most perfect home base as you travel and hike around the region.

Pingvinen | Bar/Restaurant | Great little bar in Bergen with lots of atmosphere serving no frills Norwegian food like your grandmother would make! More of a pub, less of a restaurant.

Invit | Cafe/ Restaurant | Perfect for a light lunch or a coffee.

Lyst | Restaurant | Great restaurant on the pedestrian street in Alesund. Be sure to try the fish soup!

Rost | Shop | Beautifully designed shop in the Bergen Bryggen with lots of great things for the home.

Trollstigen | Destination | Beautiful place with amazing architecture to stop and enjoy the scenery. Well worth the drive!

Travel | A Quick Guide to Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey

Let me start by saying that Shanghai is definitely not China. In the same way that New York is not America, London is not England and Paris is not France. However, the difference between Shanghai and China is far greater than any of the other major cities I have been to in the world.

I went to China expecting a much more backwards big city but was very quickly put into my place after wandering around for a few minutes. Shanghai is so incredibly westernized, it easily gives NYC and London a run for their money.

Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey

The crazy differences between old and new are so apparent everywhere you look. Old buildings from early Shanghai are shadowed by the intergalactic modern skyscrapers quickly filling every inch of the skyline. It’s amazing how fast things are changing in this country and how quickly they are adopting the western ideals of wealth and status. Everywhere you look you see enormous gated communities and apartment blocks, luxury cars of all kinds and every single designer and non designer brand store from every big city in the world. However, just slightly out of the bright lights and commerce driven parts are the much more humble abodes, wet markets, and the people make the city run.

Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey

If shopping and designer brands are the number one past time for the Shanghainese, then food is most definitely a close second. It is undeniable that this culture is largely a food focused one. Every other store front is a restaurant or a quick bite to eat, street food sellers are on every corner and wet markets are found every few blocks. Whether everyone is passionate about what they eat or just interested in filling their bellies, the means is always the same and there is absolutely no possible way that you can go hungry here. Unless of course you are vegan, gluten free, watching your fat intake and on a low sodium diet, all at the same time. In that case, bring some raw bars!

But in all honesty, the food is so incredibly flavorful which is something that surprised me. Unfortunately about 80% of my experience with Chinese food has been the American version which more than pales in comparison to the real thing. I usually avoid it like the plague as for me the only flavor profiles that I can taste are incredibly sweet and mouth dryingly salty with very little in between. In reality, the real Chinese food which I’ve had little tastes of through my life is a delicate balance of flavors and this was so very apparent in the food I was able to eat in Shanghai.

Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey

I’m sure I’ve said it more than once, but markets are my must see on any trip I go on. I love the exchanges and the passion for food that can only be found in market type settings. However, markets in the east are a whole other type of experience. They usually have a feeling of mass chaos but one that is generally organized in its own special way. The food preparation follows a whole different set of rules than we are used to in our sterile clean supermarkets in the west.

The meat and fish in China is often alive just before you select and purchase it, when is then very kindly slaughtered and cut to your liking on an alfresco chopping board that has previously seen thousands more lives, right before your very eyes. In a way the freshness is something to be desired in the clingwrapped artificially fresh food that is becoming the norm in the west, however the standards of hygiene might take a tad bit getting used to! Right next to the meat is always a huge array of vegetables and greens that make me always want to start cooking as soon as possible. It’s always a little bittersweet for me as the Omnivores Dilemma and In Defense of Food reading part of me questions how and where all this food comes from. However, sometimes ignorance is the best policy when abroad!

Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey

This trip was one of my most eye opening being able to see how the other side of world goes round. It was far different than I could have imagined and I expect many more influencers in design, architecture and food will be popping up around the world very soon!

Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey
Shanghai, China | Fig + Honey

Though the very modern aspects of Shanghai are unavoidable and spectacular in their own ways, I always enjoy finding the world where little has changed over time. If you want pictures of skyscrapers, google them. Instead, I hope you enjoy what I feel is a little piece of the heart of this city.

After exploring the Bund and its beautiful buildings and amazing views, find your way to the former french concession area of the city. Just wander the streets and have fun getting wrapped up in all the different types of markets. Dong Tai Lu has a little antique market that is unfortunately quickly disappearing with the tear down of old and the influx of new- but worth a visit. Tangjiawan Road has the most amazing street market filled with fish, vegetables and all sorts in between. Have a wander through Tianzifang and see some of the old architecture of Shanghai (make sure to go early and avoid weekends as it gets very busy) and more importantly walk around the areas around Tianzifang to get a less touristy experience.

If you’re looking to see some of the beautiful temples of China and bit of nature, visit Hangzhou for a day. The Lingjin Temple complex is set up in the tea mountains with an amazing view overlooking West Lake and the city. If you can survive the trek to the top, you will be rewarded with a fantastic view!

Recommendations:

Hakkasan| Restaurant | Fancy new restaurant in Bund 18 serving delicious cantonese food and amazing cocktails. Great atmosphere and extremely attentive service. Must have the China Mule, Crispy Duck Rolls and the Jasmin Tea Soaked Chicken!

Tori Yasu | Restaurant | Delicious Japanese yakitori hidden behind a very unassuming door. Inside is a homely and cheery atmosphere with lots of kirin beer and great food. I didn’t try anything I didn’t like, but the chicken wings were especially delicious!

Din Tai Fung | Restaurant |  A must have if you’re in Shanghai. These xiaolongbao soup dumpings are no secret and people around the world come here to enjoy these amazingly delicious and mouth burning little dumplings. I was skeptical about the chain store status of this brand at first as most of these are found in malls and business buildings, however every Shangainese person that I asked wholeheartedly recommended this place for the flavor of it’s food and most importantly the quality of the meat.  You must try the traditional xiaolongbao with pork as thats what you come for. However, the hot and sour soup, pickled cabbage, sauteed spinach with beancurd, Coconut milk with tapioca and taro, and taro sweet dumplings are all so good too!

Imperial Treasure (Yu Bao Xuan) | Restaurant | One of the best dim sum restaurants in the city located close to the Bund. The dim sum menu is served only on the weekends and despite how big it is, the place is always packed so make a reservation. There are so many options but everything is so delicious. The flavors are delicate and everything tastes incredibly fresh. The baked pork buns were especially good

Lost Heaven | Restaurant | This new restaurant is super popular at the moment and serves food from the Hunan Province. Though the place is filled with expats, the food is really actually delicious. Lots of flavor and a little bit of spice.

Elixir Health Pot | Restaurant | Though this restaurant is touted to be healthy, it is not your bland health food that is served here. This hot pot is absolutely packed with flavor and filled with dried berries, aromatics and whole spices. I loved the spicy hot pot, but definitely get the duo with two soup bases so you can try a bit of everything.  Along with the usual meats and veggies, get the egg dumplings and the sweet purple yam balls, you won’t be disappointed!

Dragonfly | Massage | Great place to get a massage and relax after exploring the city. Very reasonably priced compared to western standards and very clean.

Mandarin Oriental | Hotel |Fantastic new hotel on the Pudong side.  The staff were so attentive and make you feel very welcome. The breakfast buffet is full of anything you could want. The olympic sized pool and spa area is to die for.

Cha Mi | Shop | Great little tea shop with locations scattered throughout the city. Great place to buy ceramics or some delicious tea.

Spin Ceramics | Shop | Amazing place for beautiful modern chinese ceramics. From plates and platters to tea and sake sets, I couldn’t walk away with just one thing, but the good news is that they ship worldwide!

Wang De Chuan Tea | Shop | Beautiful shop in the Xintiandi shopping area selling very high quality teas. Try what you like before you buy anything, though I’m sure you’ll have a hard time leaving with just one.

Design Republic | Shop | Really awesome modern design shop with lots of new and classic designers. Well worth a visit even just for inspiration if you can’t fit anything to take home with you!

Dong Liang | Shop | Another beautiful shop in a converted lane house featuring homegrown designers from around the world.

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey

Life has been a bit hectic lately with a lot of back to back traveling and very little time to experiment in my own kitchen. Since I’ve mostly been cooking last minute meals and quick fix dinners, I don’t have a delicious food post for you today. Instead I’ll show you a bit of Istanbul, our latest adventure, through my eyes!

Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey

This visit to Istanbul was for a lovely wedding of a couple good friends of ours. I won’t go into too much detail about the wedding, let’s just say it involved a lot of alcohol and a long night of crazy Turkish dancing. I’ve had the pleasure visiting Istanbul before, exploring all the beautiful tourist sights, so this trip was all about exploring the more local areas and diving into the culture. I’m so glad we had time to see the other side of Istanbul, as it is so different to the Sultanamet area and equally as inspiring.

Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey

As hectic as Istanbul is, the streets of Karaköy offer a tiny bit of tranquilly among the chaos. There are really great pockets of restaurants and cafés scattered along the area which are perfect to spend the afternoon watching the world go by. One of my favorite days was wandering around the Karaköy area and meeting all the young shop owners, chefs and cafe servers. I really love the air of opportunity in this part of Istanbul. There is so much design and progression everywhere and it shows that the younger generation is embracing the opportunity to participate in the global design community. Every young person you talk to is excited to ask questions and have a quick conversation with you. I was lucky to meet two ladies who just started their new candle company using all local and natural ingredients. Of course I had made space in my suitcase for a few of these beauties.

Turkish Coffee Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Unter Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey

The food is also something not to be missed. There is much more to Turkish cuisine than just the humble doner kebab which can be found on just about every street corner (though you must have at least one of these to keep you going!). Turkish pidas which are very much like pizzas without the tomatoes are oven baked and very delicious as well as the chicken kebabs which are so flavorful. However, my favorite has to be the mezzes. It’s hard not to order everything on the menu at once, but I haven’t met a mezze that I didn’t like! The grilled eggplant with tahini and yogurt, cauliflower with almonds, roasted pepper and walnut dip, hummus or tomatoes with sumac. All eaten with a delicious bit of Turkish bread. So many options and never enough space in my stomach! Make sure you have a bit of Kunife and try one of the roasted corn on the cobs from a street vendor.  I’m positive you won’t leave this city feeling hungry!

Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey

A visit to Sultanahmet is a must if you are in Istanbul. The Blue Mosque is beautiful inside and out and the Hagia Sofia is so much bigger closer up than you would think! The Grand Bazaar is a world of its own and full of interesting stalls ranging from jewelry and handbags to trinkets. It’s easy to get lost, but that’s part of the fun. The spice market definitely hits your nose before you even enter and is filled with spices, teas and dried fruits along with the stall vendors shouting friendly jibes at you. This whole part of Istanbul is beautiful and full of life. It is very well kept and relatively modernized. The streets are clean and buildings are renovated nicely which contrasts greatly with the other areas of Istanbul where a little bit of crumbling adds to the chaos and the charm.

Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Taksim Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey

The waterfront is very much an important part of the city life. All along the coast people gather and have picnics, go for walks, go fishing and a sometimes a quick dip and the street vendors set up shop and sell everything from chestnuts to fresh mussels with a slice of lemon. My recommendation would be to avoid the crowded and long boat tours and instead spend a day driving up and down the coast if you can, as the views are beautiful and you still get to see a bit of the city life too. There are some beautiful areas just north of Karaköy and a lovely promenade to have a walk or even a picnic.

Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey

My favorite part of traveling is trying to capture the true feeling of the cities. Through food, through the architecture, the people and through my camera. It’s immensely harder when in such expansive cities like Istanbul, but it’s a challenge nonetheless. Istanbul is just huge. It extents on for miles and miles and it seems as though you’ll never reach the city limits in any direction. It’s just amazing how many people live here. It is very much a link between Europe and Asia and you can see this through the culture, the people and the way of life in this city. I joke with my husband since he hasn’t yet had the chance to visit Asia that this is just the first step.  Things get much more chaotic the further east you go!

Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey

I had a lovely time exploring this city and taking in the sights, smells and celebrating a beautiful wedding with friends. I can’t wait to experiment with some of the spices and flavors so stay tuned for some new recipes!

Where We Stayed

Mama Shelter – Great concept with a lot of quirk and life. Great to hang out in the very funky common areas and escape the city to lovely calm rooms.  The rooftop is the most amazing as it sits atop the 7th left and has a perfect 360° view of the waterfront, Blue Mosque and the rest of the city. HUSEYIN AĞA MAHALLESI
İSTIKLAL CADDESI No:50-54 

Where We Ate & Drank

Kota Cafe – Great location in Karaköy and has a lovely Turkish coffee. Lüleci Hendek Cad. No.25 Tophane

Mum’s Cafe – Amazing homemade Iced Tea! Perfect when it’s so hot outside!  Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa Mahallesi Fransız Geçidi Sokak Kapı: 1 Daire:16

Unter – Lovely restaurant serving up a modern take on Turkish food. Try the Kokorec (roasted lamb intestines with peppers served on a brioche bun) which was highly recommended by the chef and the Captain Ginger cocktail. Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa Mh., Karaali Kaptan Sk No:4

Antiochia – Great place for mezzes and delicious kebab! Try the chicken kebabs and the Eggplant with yogurt sauce. Asmalı Mescit Mh. Minare Sk No:21

Munferit – Great design inside and really great mezze dishes to share.  Try the Fried Eggplant with Tahini, Cauliflower with Almonds and the Black Couscous with Calamari. The food was amazing but the service could have been a bit better. Yeni Carsi Cad. No:19, Galatasaray, 34425 İstanbul

Mama Shelter Rooftop  – Amazing views and great cocktails with a live DJ on the weekends. HUSEYIN AĞA MAHALLESI İSTIKLAL CADDESI No:50-5