A few months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting JoAnna – and she has the addicting kind of personality, insight and style that immediately makes you want her to accept to be your friend. Her blog, For the Intolerants, is a regular read to remind myself why “being intolerant is never a bad thing”. Below, her thoughts on Istanbul and some of her internet favorites with us.
The best trip I have ever been on? Hmmmm…I’ve been mulling over how to tackle this question for a couple days now. I think the most enjoyable sojourn I’ve had in the last 12 months (I have to narrow it down otherwise both you and I would be here all day) was a five-day excursion to Istanbul in early 2012 that completely captivated and enthralled me. She left me weak in the knees, full in the belly (oh the food!) and prompted me to visit her one more time before departing the region and the place I had called home for four years (Cairo).
I choose Istanbul at the time because it was easy to get there from Egypt and the cost of a ticket was relatively cheap. I recall going into the trip with few expectations (disclaimer: I thought it would be a lot like Cairo: heaving, polluted and impetuous), but wound up being so pleasantly surprised that I wouldn’t couldn’t shut up about my experience for weeks on end.
Istanbul is a city with a history so rich and compound it has weathered the ages. It manages to blend the religious with the secular, and the old with the new with a flippant simplicity. There’s an affinity for beauty in Turkish culture that not only includes architecture and fashion, but also extends to personal grooming and style. Istanbul is the place where East and West collide with such grandeur and relative ease.
It’s where cultures merge with a modicum of pomp and circumstance.
The first time I went I didn’t engage in any of the touristy (read: mosques, churches, markets) things. I instead walked until my feet were rubbed raw and galleri-ed, yoga-ed, ate and shopped my way across the city. It was the tail end of Easter – spring was in full bloom – and nothing was more desirable than walking to my heart’s content and taking in the hustle and bustle of daily life, photographing street art and sticking my nose into things off the beaten path.
The next time I visited old Constantinople, I went to all the traditional haunts: Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Egyptian Bazaar and enjoyed each (mis)step I took. I also continued my tradition of meandering aimlessly to sip some Turkish coffee here, and have a bite of a delight there, all in the December rain no less. Reveling in every moment.
If you’re into art and design there’s the Istanbul Modern and the Pera Museum; both are worth seeing. Additionally, scattered throughout Beyoğlu there’s countless small independent galleries that are worth checking out to get a taste for what local artists are up to. Art aside, Beyoğlu is known as the “SoHo” of Istanbul, so if you want to shop…it’s one of the places to be, along with the upscale area of Nişantaşi just North of Taksim. If food is more your thing (I know it’s certainly mine) three places I enjoyed immensely were Auf, The Culinary Institut and Munferit: cozy, contemporary and oh, so good!
These are a few of my favourite things:
Favorite books: The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Kundera), Freedom (Franzen), The Chronology of Water (Yuknavitch), The Handmaid’s Tale (Atwood) and A Moveable Feast (Hemingway).
Favorite movies: I’ve been more obsessed with series’ these days (“Homeland”, “New Girl”, and “Forbrydelsen” anyone?), but I really enjoyed the The Usual Suspects, The Lives of Others, Run Lola Run and…wait for it…Skyfall. Daniel Craig as Bond? Yes. Please.
Favorite Pinterest pages: *sigh* I have enough trouble remembering to pin to my own page once a week! That said I enjoy perusing any board that transports me elsewhere or inspires me in some way.
Favorite websites and/or blogs: I enjoy reading an assortment of blogs that cover a range of topics including politics, social development, yoga, fashion, travel and literature. A couple of my go-to sites at the moment include: Two Modern Cavewomen, Third Eye Mom, Daily Cup of Yoga and The Style Junkies.
Canadian, yogini, expat and traveller…JoAnna is an Intolerant, but the really nice kind. Always on the lookout for delicious intolerant-friendly food (sometimes vegetarian, often without gluten and always dairy-free) JoAnna also enjoys discovering unconventional things on her travels and uncovering places to indulge in glass of wine and/or score a killer vintage handbag. JoAnna rants about all the goodness she comes across on Twitter, Instagram and her blog For the Intolerants.