House & Garden | Diary of a Somebody

Tara Bernerd

Travel never loses its allure for the design consultant

Tara Bernerd

May 19 2011
Tara Bernerd

Day: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

I bounced out of bed at a particularly early hour, in fact it was 6am – perhaps an internal celebration of no gym, or perhaps it was just the good old-fashioned excitement at the prospect of getting back to Istanbul.

It always amazes me that however much I travel, a rather childlike enthusiasm remains; it’s a sense of an adventure and starts with me the moment I close my case. Every time.

With a driver arriving by eight, it meant time for e-mails that needed responses, calls to Hong Kong, and then to the airport. Hong Kong, where I have spent a great deal of time, particularly in the past few years, has a part of my heart, although I admit I am less and less monogamous, with Istanbul and BA wooing me so intently.

Yet for me there is nowhere quite like the bright lights of my Asian New York. This city of dreams built on a magical island surrounded by water has a contagious buzz that feels like the future. New restaurants and clubs are constantly opening; as always, the energy in HK is infectious and from Otto e Mezzo, a fairly new Italian, to my wonderful friend Gilbert’s latest venues including Busy Suzie restaurant, to the Tazmania Ballroom, the latest addition, to Lan Kwai Fong, the city is flexing its design muscles as each new venue opens its doors.

Next week Art HK, the Hong Kong International Art Fair, begins at the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Centre and boasts a growing collection of global galleries, exciting collections and an East-meets-West body of modern art, which is worth the trip out in itself.

I was en route to the airport by 8am and I admit that I switched to BA from the comforts of Turkish Airlines (although I did discover that they don’t fly the 777 on a Wednesday), swayed by the terminal.

There is something pleasurable about starting a journey from T5, as opposed to a massive desire to leave and get out of Terminal 3 as quickly as possible. Terminal 3 at Heathrow – is it an airport? Is it a terminal? Or is it a shopping centre? Our crazy buy, buy, buy retail culture is so unsubtle in how it is forced upon us, that, combined with an insane amount of people, I really could have done a double take as to where I actually was when I was last there three weeks ago.

A polar opposite at T5, the shops, albeit more reminiscent of Mayfair, are also elegant in layout, restaurants excellent and the space planning a lot more subtle, with lounges that are world class.

Thus to Istanbul and just over three and a half hours of flying, armed with a few crucial design reads, a book and some work: it was a very peaceful Wednesday lunch!

Arriving in Istanbul brings a wave of magic, it’s an extraordinary place. There is something indescribable about cities on the water that use the water and live accordingly. And it’s fair to say that this is one of the most magnificent cities in the world, brimming with history, the Bosphorus glistens and whispers every day a million stories. The buildings are breathtaking yet it’s the mix of architecture, the layers of each different area and characters, that mould this city of seven hills.

As I cross back over the Galata Bridge by the Golden Horn, the feeling of Venice and Hong Kong always flies through me, yet coated in Eastern promise. It’s the simultaneous energy of change that is contagious; buildings are going up everywhere and the feeling of future, the feeling of tomorrow entwined with stories of old is evident and incredibly attractive.

With a couple of hours’ time difference and some good old Istanbul traffic, it was soon evening. Thirty degrees and now summer, dinner on the Bosphorus was a given. Zuma triumphs, and despite the incredible wealth of choice, with so many delicious restaurants littering the waterfront, all twinkling in this larger-than-life Venice, this particular Zuma really is quite unique.

With a fairly full day ahead tomorrow, although not too taxing, looking at apartments, I allowed myself to slip into my evening, sip a martini and disappear into the magic of Istanbul. So, surrounded by the warmth of the night and possible promises to even go on to Lucca’s in Bebek, I felt an overwhelming sense of Mmmmmmm and thanks also to a very special somebody.

See also

People, Istanbul