Hagia Sophia, Istanbul.


A very beautiful and intimidating building. Originally built as an Orthodox basilica (and used as a Roman Catholic cathedral for about 60 years under the Latin Empire), it was converted to a Mosque, but is no longer used as either and is completely open to visitors.

It is considered to be the epitome of Byzantine architecture, and has served as a model for several Ottoman mosques. I actually enjoyed this building more than the Blue Mosque itself. (Although the Blue Mosque is incredible from the outside.) 


Columbia Road flower market, London. September 2013.


I heard about this from a friend recently. I immediately wanted to see it for myself. It was much smaller than I expected - less established in that part-of-the-buildings and really organised way that a lot of London markets seem to be. But I loved it. The venders were so full of character and cheek, with their enormous voices and amazing cockney accents. A personal highlight was the ‘friendly banter’ between two huge blokes (both selling purple orchids) that went on and on and when one remark too far had the packed in passersby gasp. But it was resolved immediately by the response: “Don’t pay attention to my brother, he’s just bitter cos he’s bald” and a huge laugh from the pair of them. The flowers aren’t unreasonably priced so if you fancy brightening your living room with a few dozen peonies (or a cactus?) Columbia Road is your man.