istanbul conqued

Topkapi water lily

 ME and it didn’t take long time …

After the pandemonium at the airport on arrival with passport control and the private airport transport – I thought “Welcome to Istanbul, Wivi”.

I had expected Istanbul to be very rough in its edges – but as we enjoyed our transport, that pre-view disappeared the closer we came to the city.

Our little hotel, Peninsula Galata Hotel, a little perfect gem – with outstanding service, nothing was a problem … and the welcome we got on arrival I have never received at any other hotel, and I have stayed many nights at hotel in my lifetime. Located in Karaköy, only 2 mins walk to the waterfront and Galata Bridge. Will come back to the hotel in a later post.

After having dinner under the Galata Bridge the first evening (food wise not impressed) but with Yeni Camii in its evening dress as my table view – Istanbul had a hard grip around my heart.

Meeting Nia and to have Nia as our private guide was the highlight of the whole visit – if it hadn’t been for her and her husband, Ylimaz – we would have just been like all other tourists, running headless with maps and trying to get so much in as possible in one day.

There is so many things that is a MUST for a true tourist in Istanbul, things to see and do – but it’s impossible to get everything into 4 days and 5 nights. There was massive queues to nearly everything –  to Hagia Sophia, I think if we had join that queue we will be still in it.

Hagia Sophia is a former Greek Orthodox patriarchal basilica (church), later an imperial mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. From the date of its construction in 537 until 1453, it served as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral and seat of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire. The building was a mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931. It was then secularized and opened as a museum on 1 February 1935. (text;

A stunning building, but we didn’t join the queues and walked on to Topkapı Palace instead.

Never seen anything like in my life – the most beautiful grounds and the palace itself was enormous and it is so beauty. The wealth of Istanbul when it was built I can’t even grasp. 90 ton gold was use in 5 palaces commissioned by the Ottoman dynasty; Topkapı Palace, Yıldız Palace, Dolmabahçe Palace, Küçüksu Palace and Beylerbeyi Palace, built between 1460-1865.

We walked around for about 2 hours in the sunshine and we enjoyed a fantastic lunch at the restaurant on the cliff at the castle, Konyali, with the most fantastic view over the Bosphorus. Nia introduced me to Ayran – the Turkish yoghurt drink, which I really liked. It’s made from joghurt, salt, water and garlic. We had Doner kebab with a lovely rice.

Friday isn’t a good day for visiting mosques – it’s praying day, so we only took some photos of the Sultanahmet Camii (the Blue Mosque) and we supposed to go back to visit inside, but when we saw the amount of people that was queuing on Sunday, we decided to leave it to our next visit to Istanbul.

After leaving the Topkapi Palace we walked over to the Grand Bazaar – walked through some lovely areas, bohemia and colorful – posh and upmarket.

Grand Bazaar was too much for me to take in – far too much people for me to handle, not my thing at all. I was amazed by the whole set up, but it wasn’t for me. Have very difficult with people trying to make me buy things I don’t want.
But still I manage to buy a beautiful scarf on the way from the Bazaar to the Spicy Market.

I don’t dare to think about how far we walked the first day, my poor feet and in the evening we just had dinner at a very small restaurant in walking distance from our hotel; very tasty meatballs with pita.

The walk back to the hotel, I felt my life just flicked by me, by a passing car. Had I made one wrong step I would had been seriously injured. I could feel the draft from the speedy car in my skirt. The problem was that all pavements was under construction so we had to walk on the street. Istanbul drivers very aggressive both at land and sea.

Had a good night’s sleep and woke up with my first mosquito bites.

galata bridge view

 “Either I conquer Istanbul or Istanbul conquers me.”
Fatih Sultan Mehmet


54 thoughts on “istanbul conqued

  1. What marvelous experience ! Is Nia a Blogger here ? She seems a fantastic guide!

    The music you find, sigh …………🎼

      • Oh YES I remember Nia! So sorry! How kind you are and this is also part of making friends through WP! How wonderful!

      • Really WordPress is amazing and I feel so lucky myself because I have so beautiful blogger friends. By the way no need sorry 🙂 Thanks again, love, nia

      • Yes, it truly does …. have met up with a Swedish blogger last year and hopefully we will have another adventure together when she starts her summer … too busy at the moment with job as a teacher.

      • Timing is everything but when it works! It’s magic as your blog conveys ! I just watched the Wolf Video on Nia’s Blog! just WOW! I got teary.

      • Yes, she talked about the commercial when we was outside SHANGRI LA hotel in Istanbul – amazing video – stunning work.

  2. ….This was so beautiful, especially with the song, I love this musician… you almost took me into the memories dear Viveka. How exciting and how beautiful feeling to watch my city from your camera 🙂 But I don’t see only your photographs, I also see the “that day” with together 🙂 and you were always busy with your camera and I was following you…How stupid I was, I was thinking that you could be lost 🙂 But who! ME, you are amazing lady, I have never met someone like you,… But you forgot to say, you took all the flowers’ pictures of the Topkapı Palace 🙂 Oh, dear, what a beautiful moments we had… Of course you conquered heart of Istanbul 🙂 Thank you, love, nia

    • Nia, I thought I took a loads of flower images too, but it wasn’t that many at all, and I have to save some for the days when I didn’t take any.
      It was a fantastic day, but we didn’t have my energy left when it was time for dinner. We must have walked miles.
      Maybe I haven’t looked at Istanbul like most tourist does – and maybe I didn’t take photos of the most important buildings, but this is the Istanbul I fell in love it – the colors and the madness.
      To be honest I was a bit lost in the evening after our last dinner … up in the old town – but .. one time doesn’t count or ????
      Nia, I know you only wanted to look out for me and I love you for that, but I have been walking about since I was 5 years old and always found my way home.

    • Cheers to you (Nia) for being a wonderful guide and host … both of which I don’t find surprising.

      PS: A thanks for asking Viveka about my madness. 🙂

  3. What a beautiful place with so much art and culture! I’m a little curious about the gourds with the foil on top though? what are they? 🙂

  4. Thank you so much for this blog, we had been in Istanbul in 2012 and loved the experience. We too stayed not very far from Galata Bridge. There is something about Istanbul which is gripping. We loved our stay there.

    • I think 98% of visitors to Istanbul – love it. I’m sure there is people that don’t find it delightful mad. *smile
      Fantastic location and close to everything, it was a bit messy area because of all the road work going on, but we survived.
      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

    • I know … she and her husband put so my time and care into our visit, it was like we where their guests. Just amazing.
      I’m very happy too, regarding that car … it was talk about inches.

    • Marina, Istanbul is a city that would inspire you a lot … and there is more photos to come, but I will give you a break from Istanbul for a couple of days.

  5. You seem to have captured the essence of the place, as I thought it would be, Vivi, in all its vibrance. Special memories! As you say, so different to see it with someone who knows the city, and not just any old someone, but very special Nia 🙂
    Can you not book online or is it only queuing, and more queuing?

    • Jo, I don’t think we are able to pre-book online, because there was only one queu and think Nia would have booked if there was an option. There was big parties and I think they had bought their tickets in advance, but still had to queu to get in.
      Fantastic memories and I’m already ready for a new lot. *smile. Had a good rest yesterday, did nothing. Love it.
      If Nia hadn’t been without we would have been running around with a map in our hand, trying to find our way and trying to get so much as possible into our days.
      Personal I think the atmosphere is more important then visiting all the sites inside out – and we have to save something for next visit – even if I think there would so much to see and do anyhow. I can be your guide *smile

  6. I heard Istanbul is beautiful. It is also in my bucket list of places to see. I love your photos, the artworks, flowers, the bazaars – all so colorful!

  7. What a fantastic experience- the cosmic world comes to real life. I love it! Istanbul is high on our list – Ollie has worked there quite a bit and loves it. We have a friend getting married in Ankara in the fall- we’ll see.

    • Wendy, of course you should go to Turkey and the wedding – with 5 days stop over in Istanbul. Ollie is right – I think most people that has visit Istanbul, loves it. Delightful madness.
      It wasn’t at all what I had expected – I want to go back already, had a good rest .. *smile

  8. Thank you Oscar for loving Vivi so much and providing her with this Magical Mystery Tour 🙂 ! I have seen so many photo series of Istanbul: this somehow is the most imaginative and meaningful!! Shall share with friends! And praise you both deservedly sky high 🙂 !!!!!

    • Eha, thanks for your fantastic comment – there will be a lot more coming about our days in Istanbul, many stories to be told yet – but I don’t want to be tiring with the subject.
      I’m not really a true tourist, because I don’t need to see everything from both inside and outside, I rather pick up the small details around me – the things that make my visit special. There is so much information and photos with help of Google anyhow when it comes to the tourist attractions. The queue to the palace was long too, but somehow I manage *smile – patience isn’t really my thing neither. Thanks again for your comment.

      • But Vivi – the fact that you are not taking us on the usual tourist trip is just the factor which makes your post so very special!!

      • Eha, thank you so much for your lovely comment. It’s easy to make a nice post when .. it’s about things close to yourself.

      • Vivi – have reposted both this and the ‘reply’ one by Nia to a number of my groups – do not have your or her emails so this is the only way to let you know 🙂 ! DO have a wonderful weekend . . .

      • Our email address you can get from the comment box on the dashboard. And I haven’t got yours neither.
        It looks like we are going to have a very wet weekend, but I’m a bit under the weather – so very suitable for me. The same to you. n

  9. Thank you so much for sharing this with us Viveka.. I enjoyed it so much and it has certainly whetted my appetite for a visit to Istanbul !! Nia should start up a guest house 😀

    • Helen, you if anyone will find fantastic views of Istanbul, so go … it’s not that expensive, but 5 days is perfect, because it’s delightful mad.
      I think Nia was quite happy that we stayed on a hotel, she was like us so tired when it was time to say goodbye for this time. She would kill herself if we turned guiding into a full-time work, because there was not limit to her goodwill and care.

    • Dallas, I thought of you when we out by the Black Sea for 1/2 a day. I love Istanbul, what a city. I suppose rest of Turkey will be the same and even better.

    • Nia, was priceless .. and her husband too, it was like we had been their private guests. Never had a royal treatment like that and the hotel too – amazing and that of course made the visit even more fantastic, but loads more to see and do .. next time. And there will be a next time .. maybe you and me. *smile

  10. Pingback: 1 Day 1 World Project : 12.00- 1.00am | restlessjo

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