More Istanbul shopping and dining secrets from Daily Secret

Last week, Gadling included Istanbul in our picks for 2012 luxury travel, and introduced you to Daily Secret, a web-based “guide service” offering insider intel to 12 cities, including Istanbul. We got so many more great Istanbul secrets from editor Laura Wells (many with special discounts and exclusive access), we’re posting them for Gadling readers to add to their itineraries. Happy shopping (and tasting)!

Local designer fashion: To buy designer clothing for men & women from multiple up-and-coming Turkish designers, this is a really cool, brand-new co-op: Fashion Tunnel in Galata

Turkish wine: Turkey has amazing wine, but it’s difficult to export as it’s heavily taxed. To try the best Turkish wines (even local sour cherry wine wine, which is delicious) and get ideas for what to buy at duty free, check out Rouge in Taksim. They have free tasting every Saturday, but you can try anything by the glass in the restaurant above, which also serves amazing rare Turkish cheeses and cure meats.

Waterside dining: For a gourmet, organic meal that few know about with a view of the Bosphorus, head to Fark-et-mez in Sariyer. The chef & sous-chef are both Turkish, and Daily Secret members get 15% off their meal. They also have live jazz on certain nights.Travel magazine: One of the most interesting and beautiful magazines (the kind you save) that I’ve ever seen is ‘Cornucopia‘. Written by world-class authors and journalists, the articles cover the history of the former empires of Central Asia, as well as modern figures trying to preserve national treasures. Our members get 10% off the price and they ship worldwide for free!

Rare books: For rare books about Istanbul and the former empires, this bookshop in Kadikoy on the Asian side has any hard-to-find edition, old or new, or they’ll find it, and they ship worldwide.

Artistic home decor: Grand, hand-painted panels & wallpaper that you see in palaces & hotels all over the world is actually made by a company now based in Istanbul. You can visit their trade-only showroom & atelier if you tell them you’re a Daily Secret member when you make an appointment. They’ll ship worldwide without a problem: Iksel in Bebek.

Turkish rugs: Here is the best Turkish antique rug dealer I’ve ever come across with the best prices in the world (I’m a collector and my cousin is an antiques rug dealer, and she agreed)! He is usually only open to ‘trade’, but welcomes our members. You can either leave with a rug, or he ships worldwide at reasonable rates.

Interior design: For handprinted, hand-loomed fabrics and unique handmade furniture, Philadelphia-transplant & textiles expert Elizabeth Hewitt counts Oscar de la Renta and President Obama’s interior designer among her customers. They have everything from scarves to draperies, bed linens, table cloths, and more; all really gorgeous and uniquely central Asian. Her husband & brother-in-law are rug & suzani dealers, and his shop is on the top floor of this store – best place in terms of selection to get tulu rugs (sheepskin rugs, which are very ‘in’ now) and antique suzanis, at literally the best prices in any emerging country.

Subscribe to Daily Secret for more tips in Istanbul and other cities around the world.

Civil War secret message decoded

A coded message sent to the beleaguered Confederate commander of Vicksburg has been cracked, the BBC reports.

The Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond has had the message in its collection for more than a century. It had never tried to decipher the code of seemingly random letters until this year, when they sent it off to retired CIA codebreaker David Gaddy. While Gaddy is trained to break sophisticated modern codes, this early cipher was still tough enough to take him several weeks.

It turns out the message was sent to Confederate General John Pemberton telling him he wouldn’t be getting any reinforcements. The city was the key to the Mississippi River and had been under siege by Union forces for months. The message was dated 4 July 1863, the same day Pemberton surrendered. The bad news was probably the last straw. With his men short of food and munitions and the city in ruins, Pemberton’s last hope was getting reinforcements.

The fall of Vicksburg opened up the Mississippi River to Union gunboats and cut the Confederacy in half. It was one of the turning points of the Civil War.

[Photo courtesy U.S. Army]

Galley Gossip: 10 deep, dark, dirty, hotel secrets

How dirty is your hotel room? Very. Surely you’ve seen those undercover news reports where investigators use a black light to show us things we never wanted to see like body fluids all over the walls and bedding. And what about the video clips of house cleaners unknowingly being filmed using the same rag they used to clean the toilet rim on the bathroom counter. One news team even caught a maid spraying Windex inside a drinking glass – and she didn’t wipe it off!

Now you understand why flight attendants never touch the duvet and wash out the mugs in scalding hot soapy water before drinking coffee! I have a flight attendant friend who covers the television remote with a shower cap and wouldn’t be caught dead walking around her bare feet. But hotels aren’t the only ones to blame. What about hotel guests?

Hotels are a lot like airplanes in that people do things they would never in a million years do at home, like leave wet towels all over the floor. Even I have a deep dark dirty secret that only happens at layover hotels. Two words. Tanning lotion. I’d hate to stain my own white sheets a slight shade of orange. I’ve heard rumors of flight attendants using coffee pots to clean pantyhose. Not so sure I believe that. But one flight attendant told me he uses the pot to heat up soup. I’ve tried using it to make oatmeal but it turned out completely inedible. Better doublecheck the bottom of the iron before pressing it against your nice white shirt since it may have been used to make grilled cheese sandwich. Did you know you can even heat up restaurant leftovers using an iron and a little tin foil? It’s true.

Well all of this got me thinking. Besides the obvious of course, I couldn’t help but wonder what other kinds of disgusting things people were doing in hotels rooms. So I sent out a tweet asking people to confess their deep, dark, dirty, hotel secrets. The responses came pouring in, many of which I’m unable to share here. We’re keeping it clean, people!Hotel patrons share 10 deep, dark, dirty secrets:

1. I let my kids run around without a diaper on. I’m a mother of three. Accidents happen.

2. I “borrow” the towels.

3. Bodily fluids and what not (toe jam) I’ve left on the underside of furniture, bottom of desk, and above top dresser drawer

4. Supergluing the toilet freebies to the counter and the hangers to the rack is fun.

5. Hide all the $5 water bottles in the closet. On the last day put them all back and then deny the charges at the front desk.

6. Towels under the door plus a hot shower equals a free sauna.

7. I don’t want any accidental stains in my home bathroom so I only color my hair in hotels.

8. Those huge mirrors with the bright lights are great for plucking, especially gray hairs. You can get a great back view with some of those door mirrors!

9. Booked a hotel room just so I could use the swimming pool for my daughters fifth birthday party. The hotel found out and was kind enough to let us use the conference room to eat cake and open presents.

10. I leave the bathroom a mess on purpose so the maids have to give it a good scrub for the next guest!