A tour of the city should definitely start in the old city— we found a wonderful tour guide through the very well done Luxe Guides. The Aga Sophia, a mosque that was originally a Christian church, is absolutely amazing, full of the most astonishing details.
After seeing old city and spending some quality time in the Grand Bazaar we had a great tour of the Gilan jewelry factory. I was expecting a huge warehouse, but in fact we went into a small building where beautiful things were being created. Here is the mini assembly line where everything is made by hand.
I love to see the loose stones before they are made into jewels; I couldn't count but I would guess there were over 20 pear shape diamonds ready to be made into a fabulous piece of jewelry.
One of my favorite Gilan pieces was this emerald ring, which was truly the color of the green water bottle—stunning. Talk about too many too count.
One day we walked to in Pera, in the Beyoglu area, to my friend Serra Turker's small and charming boutique filled with her Turkish inspired bags! We bought a pastry next door at a restaurant called Gram that was so charming. Meşrutiyet Caddesi No107E Pera Beyoğlu.
The bags displayed at the Misela shop, which is tiny but adorable and well edited. She names her bags after different areas around Turkey and her travels such as Lara at Symi.
As heavy as Orhan Pamuk's books are I couldn't put the Museum of Innocence down. And the Turkish writer recently opened a museum inspired by the novel.
We crossed over to Asia on the ferry—it was freezing but worth the view. It’s like going from Manhattan to Hoboken, only you are traveling to another continent.
Here I am in my friend Serra's backyard in Asia—I call it the Four Seasons Asia.
The Four Seasons has the best flowers at every location. I couldn't help but to take a picture in front of them. I would recommend the Four Seasons Bosphorus for summer and the Four Seasons at Sultanahmet—the former jail in the old city—for winter
My husband and I bought a painting and pomegranates at the Sofa Gallery last time we were in Istanbul—it’s right outside the Grand Bazaar and the owner is very knowledgeable about Turkish art and history.
No trip to Istanbul is complete without going to the Grand Bazaar – even if you don't buy anything. Personally I have a hard time walking out empty handed.