I figure it’s about time I shared what my daily life in Istanbul is like. So here goes.

I arrived in Istanbul on October 28th, so it’s been seven weeks now. And I must say what I’ve been up to in those seven weeks has been pretty great. Balances out living in a hotel room for sure. My “home”, let’s start there. I live at the Ramada Atakôy (Atakôy being a suburb of Istanbul). It’s pretty close to the airport and very close to the office. When I manage to get myself out nice and early it’s a 20 minute walk to the office – or the gym or pool next door to the office. When I don’t get up early, there’s a van that picks up those of us living at the Ramada. Getting to work is easy. Living in a hotel room…well, I’d prefer not to, but so far it’s been okay.

This is the Ramada Atakôy… For some reason the entrance and the street in front of it mesh and it’s hard to tell whether you’re on the street or not. It’s a busy street corner and making your way across can be interesting.


The Ramada Hotel and Suites, Atakôy, Istanbul. Also known as “home”.


This is the first room I had here. Two single beds…after a few weeks I’d had enough of that.


So I moved into this room with a King bed. Felt extremely luxurious to be able to starfish and move around.

It’s a very new hotel, so every now and again something new makes its way into the room. A few weeks ago the shampoo and soap were suddenly branded Ramada, and a couple of days ago a robe showed up. It’s been interesting to watch them develop their service. We can now go into the gym – even though it’s not officially opened yet.

My other “home” is the office. So if you’re thinking it’s all glamour all the time over here….some proof that it isn’t would be the office photos.


This is the downstairs office. Since Deepak (man with ponytail on the left) went back to India, the style level in our office has taken a serious drop…


And this is the upstairs office, where I generally sit. Bad fluorescent lighting, everyone crammed into one big room, and let me tell you by mid-afternoon it’s incredibly warm and there’s a definite lack of oxygen. And for whatever reason on our floor the women’s washroom runs out of tp by mid-afternoon, and it doesn’t seem to get refilled until night-time…

That said, we know how to have fun. There are many laughs, and even a few spontaneous dance parties.


Luckily for me I’ve had to go out and about and work on some photo shoots. Some of the team see nothing but the office all week. So you won’t find me complaining. You will, however, find me being incredibly thankful. I’ve been on some pretty interesting shoots.


A sunny day spent on the Bosphorus.


Getting to go out into the countryside. Not sure stepping onto this old suspension bridge was a ‘highlight’ that I need to repeat. “It’s safe if you walk on these boards”, right. I hate heights, I get vertigo, that makes me feel really secure.


One of the production team’s daughter Azra. She was on a school break so she joined us for a couple of days. We bonded over Angry Birds.

I’ve even managed to learn some Turkish. In true Lise fashion I have a tutor. But not a traditional ‘teacher’ type of tutor. That just doesn’t work for me. My tutor and I meet and go out and about. What I want is a glimpse at regular day-to-day life in Istanbul. What I want to learn are words and phrases that I will use on a daily basis. I met Bariş (pronounced “Bah-Rish” (roll the R like you do in French) while doing a shoot. Unfortunately for him that meant he had to swim in the Bosphorus in mid-November. Not sure how he made it out without going into hypothermia, but he did. And as we were driving him home post shoot he asked how long I’d been here and if I’d learnt any Turkish. Sure I had, but just the easy stuff, what I needed was a tutor. He offered, I accepted. In true Turkish hospitality style, he won’t let me pay him. And to date when we’ve been out and about he refuses to let me pay for anything. I’m going to have to figure out how to fix that. Or maybe there’s nothing to fix…


Poor guy. The least I could do is take a photo that does him justice – which this one most certainly does NOT do. On this occasion we were out and about in Beşiktaş. A much nicer and cooler part of town than the area I live in.

Speaking of driving around this city – that is certainly quite an experience. My comfort zone for space around the vehicle I am in has not only been tested, it’s been completely demolished. I have no idea how we don’t get side-swiped daily. I am also in awe of where these drivers can get their vans to go – streets I wouldn’t even try to go down in a compact car, and a Mercedes van for 12 gets through. Little windy streets with cars parked on both sides and vehicles coming at us. Six lanes that merge into one with cars jostling for position. Going backwards on a highway – or any street for that matter. Cars creating lanes where none exist. It’s crazy. But I guess that’s what happens in a city of 18 million. I need to take photos of that. No words can adequately describe it.

A few more favourite sites around town include:


Out and about in the Taksim area. That is one heck of a lot of doner meat! And totally yummy.


Every now and again you come across a street that is completely unexpected. Gorgeous.


Walking around Taksim for a nightlife shoot – and what do we find but a restaurant called “Montreal”. Not quite sure why it’s a Mexican food place…but seeing the maple leaf felt good.

In my first week here we found this great little tea place. When David and Marilyn were here for a visit (they were cruising in the area and in Istanbul for a day) I took them there, with Bariş. This completely astonished Bariş. Apparently my favourite little tea place that has baby sized plastic stools with cushions and plastic tables lining the windy cobble street is a traditional MEN’S tea house. No females allowed. Oops. We were sitting outside, and sure enough when I looked in it was filled with men (older men at that) drinking tea, smoking cigarettes and playing cards. I think knowing it was a traditional ‘men’s only’ spot made Marilyn and I like it even more. Bariş insisted that if I ever went back on my own and sat inside it wouldn’t matter whether or not I spoke Turkish…I would know what they were talking about and I would leave. Hmmm, I might have to test that!


It’s still my favourite tea house!


The Basilica Cistern. Constructed when Rome ruled. As the main water supply it used to be full to the ceiling. Now it’s just plain gorgeous.

There is so much more I could write about, but this is enough for now. Suffice it to say, I cannot believe how lucky I am! The past two weeks have been all work, every day, but there’s no way I can complain about any of this. I am simply grateful, for the opportunity to be here, the people I work with, the friends I have made, and this incredible city and culture.

Çok teşekkurler for reading this far down.



I cannot believe how amazingly gorgeous the sky was last Saturday. This is taken from the Asian side, looking at the Maiden’s Tower and then back onto the old city on the Europe side, with the Aya Sofia and the Blue Mosque up on the hill. Stunning.