take me to... istanbul

We love a theme here at Tigerlily and if you are a follower of ours you will be aware that we have gone a little mad over 'evil eyes' of late. Also known as 'nazars', these eye-shaped amulets are believed by many cultures to ward off evil. Eastern cultures have always intrigued us and this season's collection is greatly inspired by Eastern European folk art, Greek textiles and intricate Turkish ceramics.

Our dear friend and talented stylist Bridie Gilbert, recently adventured to Turkey. Working with Tigerlily for many years, Bridie shares our eternal fixation with travel and exploration along with our endless passion for bikinis. Here she shares her Istanbul travelogue with us...

...where to eat...

Namli karaköy: for breakfast – a traditional delicatessen style café where you can choose everything you want on your breakfast plate. Note: don’t order your Turkish coffee until the end of your meal!

Güllüoglu Karaköy: for baklava and the best Turkish delight ever. Güllüoglu dates back to 1820, so enough said – they know!

Odun café on Kiliç Ali Pasa Mescidi Sokagi: for an afternoon Turkish coffee stop. Even if you don’t drink coffee they have other great drinks and snacks, and in the winter 'Salep'. A great place for people watching late-afternoon!

...where to drink...

Münferit and Gaspar: try the cocktails! Both are owned by the same two chic Turkish guys that know their food and alcohol and definitely like to party! We met them randomly over a cocktail at Münferit, and they told us so many great insider tips!

...where to relax...

Kiliç Ali pasa hamami tophane: a visit to a traditional Hamam is a MUST. I found out about this extraordinary Hamam, attached to an ancient mosque that has been undergoing restorations for the last 7 years. Now re-opened, it is the most overwhelmingly exquisite spa I have ever been to. Imagine beautiful Turkish women (young and old) wrapped in towels fresh after a hamam, lounging and whispering over Turkish coffee on balconies that line the room. In the centre, a beautiful fountain and the most accommodating staff who quietly guide you through. Make sure to book - women's hours are in the morning until early afternoon, and men are after that into the evening.

...where to explore...

Karaköy area: start at Kiliç Ali pasa mescidi sokagi, a small street lined with great coffee bars and cafes, then wind your way through the disjointed streets to the unexpected modern artisanal shops with jewellery, clothing, accessories, homewares and more by local designers.

Çukurma neighborhood: an antique area at the top of Beyoglu Galata Tower. Explore the back streets surrounding for shopping.

Istiklal cadessi: the main shopping street of Beyoglu. Start at the top and walk the entire way down.

Sultanahmet: Sultanahmet is the 'tourist' side but don't be deterred, it's beautiful and you wouldn’t be seeing Turkey unless you go. Dedicate 2 days if you can. Visit the Blue Mosque /Sultanahmet mosque, Topkapi Palace (make sure you buy the extra Harem ticket). That’s by far the most jaw dropping thing I’ve seen - think small hand painted tiles floor to ceiling. Only the sultan, his family, his eunuch’s and concubines could enter - this was their living quarters.

Hagia Sophia Mosque (also known as the blue mosque).

Grand Bazaar: Just keep in mind for shopping as it’s generally more expensive and less original. Unless you make friends with the shopkeepers and persuade them to show you the stuff not out on display...

Spice Bazaar: at the bottom of Sultanahmet before the bridge – unless you are claustrophobic. Amazing though, olives the size of your head and every kind of dried spice, fruit and delicacy you never knew existed.

Walk over the Bosphorus Bridge between Beyoglu/Karaköy and Sultanahmet to see the hundreds of fishermen gathered daily on both sides of the bridge and fishing from the Bosphorus.

...a few last tips...

Take public transport if you need, but walk as much as you can so you don’t miss the many visually amazing things (literally) hiding in the walls, down alleyways and even in the crumbling buildings that make up the visual DNA of Istanbul.

Don’t limit yourself, wander the streets without a map and keep your eyes open at all times. Take in the small artisanal details of every street, building, textile and meal...

Listen out for the call to Prayer – sung from the minarets of the mosques over loudspeakers throughout the city 5 times a day summoning the Muslims for mandatory prayer.

Respect the cats - they are literally everywhere and you can’t help but feel they are the guardians of this magic city.

Thank you Bridie! x

Australian Bridie Gilbert is a freelance stylist based in London. Her instagram... @bridie_gilbert