Istanbul, Turkey + Mamanuca Islands, Fiji
It's our latest Youtube Companion Episode! Go check it out! It's our first time to have a guest googler on a live video recording. Melanie Simpson is here, which means there are THREE of us on camera drinking wine. And by that I mean three gals who are already a bottle of wine in, and continuing to drink wine. This is going to be GOOD. Melanie even brought the girls hand-painted Harry Potter-themed wine glasses. Oh and she brought Alison a wine foil cutter, because this avid listener recalled from a previous episode that Alison neither had one nor knew how to use one. What a generous guest to have...we think we'll keep her around. Melanie tells about her favorite 10K Dollar Day episodes, and provides some pronunciation corrections, as she's a seasoned traveler. She's been to over 40 countries! Her favorite place is Santorini, Greece, though she was so excited by the recent episode to Copenhagen. Interesting here is that Lulu is looking flawless, thanks to Alison's 4-year old doing her makeup. Seriously. You can scroll down to the bottom of this post to see the Youtube Video where Lulu flaunts her fabulous look.
Alison forgot to think of an obsession. You see, when she realized that guest googler Melanie was doing a 10K Day, and that meant she wasn't doing a 10K Day, she just forgot to prepare anything else. Lulu and Melanie hope she can make it up on the fly, which of course, she can. She declares that she is obsessed with the wine they are drinking. She mixes the Cabernet Sauvignon with the remaining Rosé in her glass, much to Lulu's chagrin. Raise your hand if you thought that wine would be Alison's last-minute obsession. Everyone? Okay cool. Lulu is obsessed with the 1 Second Everyday app. It's an app that takes one second videos from each day and strings them together into one video. You can take the video directly in the app or upload from your camera roll. At the end of a year you will have a roughly six minute video showcasing every single day. Pretty cool! Usually Lulu is terrible at doing something multiple days in a row, but so far this year she has been able to keep up with it. The ladies pause to record her 1 second video for the day. While they do that, you go download the app.
Melanie is obsessed with the Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. She's the one who released that book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which teaches you to go through every item you own and if it brings you joy when you hold it you can keep it, or if it doesn't, you thank it and get rid of it. It's a life-changing manifesto for minimalists and the last hope for hoarders - or just clutter-ridden hipsters. Whichever category you may fall into, watch an episode to get inspired and then go order the book.
Alison didn't prepare a wishlist item either, but she realizes that she not only has a wish, but that is came true on a live video episode! She wishes for a wine foil cutter, which guest googler Melanie gave to her today. Wishlist win! Melanie really wants to find her a legit wine bottle opener, which Alison still doesn't have. How about this decorative box set with a rabbit corkscrew? Now that would be luxe living. Or luxe drinking, rather. For herself, Melanie is wishing for a handheld mixer. You know the kind where you can lick the beaters? She doesn't bake enough to need a KitchenAid® stand mixer... just a good ol' Black+Decker® electric hand mixer will do. Alison is drunk on Amazon so adds it to her cart to send to Melanie. Don't drink and Amazon, folks.
Lulu visits this city which is the only city in the world that spans two continents - Asia and Europe. Alison is very excited about the fact that Lulu will get to be in two continents at once, it's much more exciting than straddling a state line, which she has done before. Lulu is going to stay at Raffles Istanbul, which is a luxury center in a modern bazaar that claims to offer "emotional luxury". Umm, yes PLEASE. While the location sounds to Lulu like it's in a shopping mall, since it's in Europe (and Asia!), she thinks her "Horizon" one-bedroom suite will do just fine. Especially since it comes with a butler and packing/unpacking services and access to Raffles' concierge club, which in a year of researching 10K Days, is the best concierge club she has ever seen.
In addition to a la carte food available throughout the day, you receive DAILY shoeshine, pressing/steaming, and blow dry/shave services. Oh and you will most certainly have time to take the complimentary hotel art tour or Istanbul history tour, because you automatically have a late check out of 5pm! Dream come true. Oh and did we mention complimentary limo service? Seriously the best concierge club EVER. While she was researching food, she was amazed at all the desserts she's never heard of before. In addition to trying the obvious choice of turkish delight, Lulu wants to try Salep, which is whole milk thickened with a starch made from orchid tubers. She found a recipe on the spruce Eats, which she is going to follow at home, as long as she can get the orchid tuber starch in Turkey and get it through customs on the way back. Fingers crossed. Lulu also wants to try kaymakli kayisi, which is dried apricots with buffalo clotted cream and rolled in ground pistachios. To try and find all these sweets she heads to the Grand Bazaar , which according to Melanie is a must-see. The Grand Bazaar is a covered market built in the 15th century that houses over 4000 shops, across 61 streets, and is often the most-visited tourist attraction in the world! Lulu says she's going to forego a tour guide and just walk around sampling things. Having been there, Melanie cautions her naiveté about this and suggests she take a tour or pay a staff member from the hotel to accompany her. Just in case she gets offered a sample of something she "shouldn't try". Specifically, she is going to pop in to Hafiz Mustafa sweet shop which has every candied fruit you could possibly want. Green figs, whole mandarin oranges, cherries, crunchy pumpkin, tomatoes! Yes, tomatoes.
Now for her lunch Lulu heads to afternoon tea at Lavinia Lounge . She found this afternoon tea at Sam’s Travels and Food Reviews. Sam travels the world sampling afternoon teas, which is obviously Lulu's dream job. Sam says that “the Raffles Istanbul chef went the extra mile and created the best savory selection I have ever sampled, all countries considered.” Lulu whole-heartedly agrees with this statement after having her afternoon tea...and a glass of champagne, of course.
So, Istanbul…did you know that it used to have another name? Lulu asks Alison this question, and when Alison says she does not, the girls decide to try and let her guess it. Her clues are "five syllables", "starts with a hard 'C'", "first three syllables are the first name of someone who was on American Idol and then did a Broadway Show". Who comes to mind is the American Idol chick who was in The Color Purple, Francesca? "Cran-che-sca-bru-fah" is her first guess. Well, since it's Fantasia, and not Francesca, well, that was NOT EVEN CLOSE. Lulu gives her another clue "Rock of Ages"...and Alison remembers Constantine, so guesses "Con-stan-tin-a-rena". Oh man. "Ends with a gemstone" four (or was it five?) guesses later, she actually arrives at "Con-stan-ti-n-OPAL". Constantinople, good job, Alison!
Now that that has transpired, we have a very short rendition of "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" from the ladies before Lulu tells us why she brought this up. She's going to bring the song - and the old name - back, and is hoping to go viral. Lulu buys these high-end markers and makes polaroid-like cardboard cutouts with #notconstantinople drawn on the bottom. She goest to Banners on the Cheap to print out #notconstantinople banners, then she hangs those banners next to every spot she sees the word "Istanbul". Lulu goes around the city with a photographer from Shoot My Travel to take pictures, both of people with the polaroids and of reactions to the #notconstantinople banners. When she gets home she will create a coffee table book to serve as a souvenir from her unique trip!
If you thought her trip was over, you were waaayyyy wrong. Lulu is a huge Agatha Christie fan, she has read every single one of her books. A favorite is Murder on the Orient Express, which Christie wrote in Istanbul. The story goes that no one knew where she went during a two week disappearance following her husband's affair. After her death a medium revealed a secret that led to a key to room 411 at Pera Palace Rumor has it that she wrote Murder on the Orient Express in that very room. Get this, Lulu books room 411, and curls up in the bed to read her nearly $4,000 first edition of Murder on the Orient Express from Abe Books.
Before she left for her trip, Melanie made some fabulous purchases from Everything But Water.
Well-dressed and well-prepared, she heads to the Mamanuca Islands, which are the small islands NW of mainland Fiji. Melanie stays in the Beach Family Bure (Fijian for bungalow?) at Castaway Island Fiji, the island where the movie Castaway was filmed. Basically the only resort on this island, she is looking forward to the live music, swim-up bars, and general island-living fun. Oh and the plush bathrobes sound good too.
Now first things first, you need to know how much Melanie loves sharks. She loves sharks ALOT. She jumps at the chance to adopt sharks at My Fiji Sharks, she is sponsoring ten sharks, and at $100 each, that is $1,000 out of her budget. She goes for some local cuisine for breakfast at the Waters Edge Restaurant before heading out for some activities. She goes on the Shell Market Excursion where she takes a boat to meet the local village people of Malolo Island. When you arrive at the village you do a traditional kava ceremony – it's a drink made from a root that while not alcoholic does have a very similar effect. Feelin' good, she goes on the Modriki Tour which visits the island where Tom Hanks' Castaway was filmed...here's hoping she sees Wilson. Doesn't hurt that this tour includes a champagne brunch. She is now going for a Fiji Shark Dive, on which she is hoping she gets to see the sharks she adopted, including one called "Naughty-less", get it? After all this exciting activity, she heads to the hotel where the spa brings the services to you. She opts for the Lomani Massage, which means "pampered, cherished, cared for" in Fijian. She throws in a mani/pedi and a scalp massage for good measure. Feeling refreshed she grabs a late dinner at 1808 Restaurant, which is a fusion of old and new Fijian food. Thoroughly satiated, she decides to buy kava shots for everyone in the hotel, including the staff, and grabs bottles of kava to take home as souvenirs to take home.
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