Introduction to Istanbul - On Adventure

I am one of the least adventurous people I know. 

Seriously. I understand that I have the public persona of a courageous gypsy... but I don't know how much of that is truly me. It is of course who I want to be- carefree and adventurous- but I'm still working on it. Really I desire a comfortable place to create, and to be surrounded by the people who love and inspire me. I tend to shy away from risks unless pushed- I get stuck in routine and comfort. So when

Ricky Cohete

invited me along to Istanbul I immediately came up with a million reasons why that would be the least responsible decision ever. Thankfully I have friends and family who understand that I also desire to be adventurous- who urged me to go. 

As I sat on the plane from Chicago, I began thinking about all of this. Comfort and security in my mind create a cocoon to heal and prepare you for the next adventure. Some times I get so focused on the recovery phase that I forget about the next adventure. When I get on an airplane I can feel the cocoon being stripped away- exposing me as the person I want to be. 

I am excited to share my trip to Istanbul with you over the next few weeks. While I was there I got to meet several designers, chat with locals in street-corner cafes, and explore to my heart's content. It was a beautiful experience. So many friends gave me suggestions and advice on this trip- Kareen,




, Katie, and Alara from

The Guide Istanbul

... They all helped shape my experience and connected me to this fantastic place. 

These are a few of the images that


and I captured on our first day. 

Istanbul has intrigued me for many years. It was the constant focus of my collegiate studies on the crusades, and it has always seemed a complicated and mysterious place. I love cities where cultures converge- and Istanbul has more cultures converging than just about any place I know. There were neighborhoods that felt like the left bank of Paris, parts that felt like Nantucket, entire districts that seemed like they had stopped the progress of time in about 1860, and some that were as modern as New York. Denizens from every corner of the earth seem to converge there- and its growing reputation as a fashion capitol had in no way escaped my attention. 

 If I had to sum up Istanbul in a few sentences (which I feel obliged to do) I would describe it as a very raw city- teeming with life- almost to a dizzying pace. The city seems caffeinated in a way far outpacing New York or London. Perhaps the narrow streets lend to this effect, but on the european sides at least, one cannot seem to get away from the crowds. I loved it. Energy all around. It is a dirty city- I don't say this as a negative aspect- but merely to give you the idea that it resembles an old city- like London or Paris a hundred years ago. It is a city that still has large portions that are un-gentrified and un-modernized. Such a refreshing refreshing aspect in a city today. 

In Beyoglu- the neighborhood where I stayed- this meant that I constantly saw street children running around, and old ladies sitting on my front steps when I returned home at night. It meant that neighborhoods felt like neighborhoods, and everyone hung their laundry to dry over their street. It meant that by the end of the week I knew the street dogs by name, and the girl at the corner shop knew me as "the guy who buys orange juice". I will tell more stories about Beyoglu soon. It was a raw, beautiful, sometimes frightening place.

As if calculated solely to win my heart- Istanbul is full of fresh fruit and juice. Its pretty much the thing there. Local markets, vendors and kiosks full of vibrant delights. I am constantly comparing Paris and Istanbul... and in this area, Istanbul wins the prize for healthy habits.

What we wore this day-

Me- Vintage Gold trousers, Vintage Army Jacket, H+M Tee, Cole Haan Loafers 

Ricky- Striped Shirt he created, Vintage Harem Pants, Vintage Bomber Jacket, Baggu Backpack

This post is simply an introduction to my adventures in Istanbul... more posts are forthcoming. I am excited to share with you all of the exciting finds and stories and people I met along the way.

Jonathan Randall Grant


Culture Keeper