Exploring the Grand Bazaar, Bayram and The Golden Horn

In 1926 the Irish poet William Butler Yeats wrote Sailing to Byzantium: “I have sailed the seas and come to the holy city of Byzantium.” I got here by flying American Airlines from Boston to Chicago to London, and finally to Istanbul, arriving exhausted, at midnight.

Does any city better represent the melding of cultural influences, traditional craft and modern design than Istanbul?  I’ve come to Istanbul to discover today’s crafts that have risen out of artistry and techniques used since the Ottoman Empire and learn some of the stories behind them.

I first visited Istanbul in 2001 and stayed in Sultanahmet, the Old City, so this time I opted for a restored historic flat just off of Istiklal, the bustling pedestrian commercial center of Taksim. The Guardian named the kebab restaurant Zubeyir directly below the flat one of the Top 10 in Istanbul.

Taksim, Istanbul flat - Shop Real Time - 2014

Taksim, Istanbul flat – Shop Real Time – 2014


Travel for me is about exploring a city’s artisan studios, antiques stores, and flea markets. It’s a way for me to meet people, discover our common interests and learn something from each dealer or craftsperson. I started picking products and shooting for our Shop Real Time PINTEREST CATALOG on day one!


Shooting products at Noah's Ark Rugs, Istanbul

Shooting products at Noah’s Ark Rugs, Istanbul


We spent Bayram, the largest national and Islamic holiday, at Ikonium studio, the working gallery of Turkish felt master Mehmet Girgiç and American textile artist Theresa May-OBrien. What a treat!

Bayram holiday spent at Ikonium Studio, Istanbul

Bayram holiday at Ikonium Studio, Istanbul




  1. Kay, this is thrilling! Cannot wait to see what you have found tomorrow. What an adventure–you are such an inspiration to me. See you tomorrow in Istanbul!

  2. I first Visited ISTANBUL in 1997, stayed at the Pera Palace. Toured Western Turkey, visiting the HITTITE site of Hatusus, the marble streets of EPHESUS…..all thrilling.So interested in the chance to purchase artifacts made by local artists and fine craftspeople.

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