As promised, here is the video we created over the past few days for our pals at Second Home Hostel in Istanbul. It still amazes me that it can take over 30 hours of work to produce a video less than two minutes long. Hope you enjoy it. Attentive readers may recognize the beautiful female lead. If you’re coming to Istanbul, you can find these guys at or through common booking sites like Hostel World and Trip Advisor. We recommend it! p.s. – This video is dedicated to Ben and Pen Clark. Thanks for hooking it up guys!  
Hey! If you’re reading this, then I’ll assume you’ve been digging the blog. How about sharing the love back to us. One of the photos I took in February and posted on this blog is a finalist in a photo contest over at Please vote for my pic here, by emailing with the subject heading “Turkey Vote Chris Simit”. There are some good photos entered, so I don’t really expect to win, but the prizes include dinner in Istanbul, and since we are heading back that way in a few weeks, you’ll be helping to feed some hungry travelers. They ask you to only vote once. The contest closes on the 18th of May, so go vote now (and tell your friends)! Thanks! Chris p.s. – Simit are the type of Turkish bread rings the vendor in the photo is pushing around. p.p.s. – We are almost certainly still out in the…Continue Reading
I hate when people ask me if I’m a photographer. Sometimes it’s the gear that prompts this. They see the expensive looking camera, or maybe pick up my kit for a moment and are taken aback by how heavy it is. “Whoa! You must be a photographer.” Maybe it’s the final shots that have them whoa-ing, but the gear still takes centre-stage: “You’re camera takes great pictures!” But no, the reason I hate when people ask me if I’m a photographer is because I’m not sure what to say. On the one hand, I most certainly am. I’ve shot weddings, portraiture, and used my photography as the foundation of several paid graphic design projects. I’ve been paid money to shoot. Simple. But on the other hand, I feel like I’m not really a photographer at all. To date, photography has only been a small part of what I do, and after…Continue Reading
This is the interior of a building called the Baghdad Kiosk, located in the residential area of the sultan. It is one of many excellent examples of the famous blue Iznik tiles found throughout Ottoman architecture in Turkey.
Topkapi Palace located in Istanbul, was the headquarters for the Ottamen Empire for more then 400 years. Today it is a museum. When we went it cost 20 Turkish Lira per person, and if we wanted to go into the Harem it would cost an additional 15 Turkish Lira per person. The ticket for entering the Harem has to be bought once you are inside the Topkapi Palace. The palace is constructed around a series of courtyards, all of which are very beautiful and peaceful. The first courtyard is free of charge. In Ottoman days this courtyard was open to all, but in order to walk through the gate into the second courtyard you had to be some sort of dignitary (see the photo above of the second gate). Within this courtyard for dignitaries and officials is the courtroom where the men took care of the Empires official matters. Apparently…Continue Reading
Which one should we go to? This one costs double the price, so is it better, or is it just more because it is physically one of the oldest Turkish baths? There are so many questions when it comes to Turkish baths, or Hamams, for us Canadians who are very used to wearing lots and lots of layers of clothing. The Lonely Planet Turkey travel guide suggests three in Istanbul: the Cagaloglu Hamami, the Cemberlitas Hamami and the Yesildirek Hamami. The first two range from 80-100 Turkish Lira for the full Turkish bath experience, which is a steam room, a bathing and a massage. The third, Yesildirek Hamami, is a gay hamami which costs 30 Turkish Lira. A staff member at our hostel suggested we go to one called Sultanahmet Hamami which only costs 40 Turkish Lira for the full-deal. It’s also just up the main street from the Blue…Continue Reading
Below the streets of Istanbul, beside the famous mosque Aya Sophia, is an underground tank, called the Basilica Cistern or the Turkish name, “Yerebatan Sarnici”  meaning “Underground Palace”. It was constructed in the 6th century during the reign of Emperor Justinianus. The cistern is supported by 336, 9-meter tall marble columns. Istanbul used the cistern to store as much as 100,000 tones of water. They most likely used the Roman aqueduct, as well as newer constructed aqueducts to transport the water the 19 kilometers from the Belgrad forest to the cistern. In fact, the cistern is featured in the James Bond movie “From Russia with Love”. When the movie was shot the cistern was not open to the public. However on September 9, 1987 after renovations, removal of 50,000 tons of mud and the construction of a wooden walkway for vistors to make their way through the cistern, it was…Continue Reading
Our friend Colin has been pestering us to show “the truth” of the places we visit, rather than the stuff you can find in “any art history text book.” He wants to see the gutters, poverty, deprivations of every kind. Mostly that’s just his own twisted personality, but it presents some problems. Turkey is simply not that depraved. Yes, there are issues. There is unemployment. There is poverty by Western standards. But in a country that is 99% Muslim, there is a definite lack of depravity. This isn’t Vancouver’s East Side. There are no overt drug or alcohol addicts. Even young Turks prefer to drink tea or juice when they go out to hit the down. Crime is minimal, and tends to be of a mild “fleece the foreigners” variety. On the whole, Istanbul has presented the type of warm hospitality Turkey has long been known for, blighted occasionally by the…Continue Reading
UPDATE: (a couple more photos added) Aya Sofia was built about 1500 years ago by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, and served as the most important church in Christendom for about 900 years before being converted into a mosque by the Ottomans in 1453. Even after all this time it is still impressive. Suffice it to say, we are in Istanbul. I have a feeling Laura will have more to say about the Aya Sofia, so I’ll just put up some pics for now.