Memories of Istanbul

There is a a lot happening in our lives these days that takes precedence over doing sewing or crafting projects. So in the absence of the “just created” perhaps now is another good opportunity to pull out some old travel photos to share. You don’t mind if they are from 2006, do you?

These were taken during the same trip that I was able to share with my husband that I’ve bloggged about in the post Images of Ireland. After leaving the Emerald Isle we went on to Istanbul.

While my husband worked during the day in the office there, I would wander around the neighborhood where it was located taking pictures. I quickly fell in love with Istanbul. The stone streets, the attitude of hospitality to strangers, the Grand Bazaar, the history that stretches back so very much further than anything here in the US. Actually the length of history in Turkey rivals just about anywhere you might visit.

Random acts of English.

Istanbul has an abundance of street cats… many of them very friendly. One of the ways I amused myself was to go buy small fish from the fishmonger to feed the cats. If you know me, you know that as a child I aspired to grow up to be the crazy cat lady. Well, maybe not so crazy, but definitely the cat lady. My cousin and I would scheme and plan for hours about how we would run a cat farm. We couldn’t understand why nobody else was already doing it. Barns full of cats and kittens… so much more fun than cows to our 6 and 7 year old minds. (Obviously long before I understood the importance of spaying and neutering.) For most of my life I have shared my home with multiple cats.

So this was the behavior one would expect from me by plunking me down in a place with swarms of cats, a source of inexpensive fish and a lot of time to burn. The locals though, did not know me, of course. It hadn’t been my intention, but I did manage to draw a lot of attention to myself. One lady lectured me in a very heated tone, complete with wagging finger for at least 5 minutes. When she would stop to take a breath I would try to say that I didn’t speak Turkish, but this just made her inhale deeper and lecture a bit louder (though just as rapid-fire).

Forgive the obnoxious watermark. This wasn't the size or placement I chose, and somehow when Image Bucket went rogue it managed to overwrite both the original and the duplicate of the photo. Technology and I can be a dangerous combination, even though I'd swear this wasn't my fault!

I’m pretty sure she was worried about my exposing myself to who-knows-what-kinds-of-germs by touching the filthy felines. That’s my guess as it seemed to be the concern of other people as well. One shopkeeper left his shop to hurry over to me with a bottle of water which he poured while he insisted I wash my hands. I showed him that I was carrying and using hand sanitizer but he wasn’t impressed. After these two experiences I continued to enjoy the cats, just a little more discreetly, around the corner into alleyways and the like.

This one, while not the most attractive, was especially endearing to me. He followed me for a long time, meowing continuously. He just wanted me to stop and pet him. He let all the other cats be distracted by the fish so he could monopolize me for attention. Eventually I had to start ignoring him as it was impossible to just take him home with me. I can still hear him meowing after me when he finally gave up, sat down and just watched me go.

My first day out I was so proud of myself at being clever enough to take a quick picture of the street sign at the corner by the office. I didn’t congratulate myself at being clever enough to write down the office phone number and take it with me, because, um…, I wasn’t.

Istanbul is NOT laid out on a grid. And while it could not be accused of being without visual interest and variation, when everything you look at is new and exotic looking to you it becomes hard to remember landmarks. I quickly became lost, and in trying to find my way back, became even more so. This is where I found out how very hospitable Turkish people are. I showed someone the picture I had taken and he didn’t recognize it, so he looked for somebody else. This happened again and again until finally I found myself escorted through the neighborhood by about 7 men who had each dropped what they were doing and made it their personal responsibility to make sure the silly tourist got back safely. It turned out almost nobody recognized the street corner because the streets had been given new names the week before.

A chair in the early morning light in the home of our hostess.

I really liked this photo taken from the window of the Archaeological Museum, until it was marred by the overzealous watermark.

We were just there for about a week, and it was primarily a work trip, but we did get to see quite a few sights there in Istanbul during the afternoons and over the weekend. We visited the Hippodrome, The Grand Bazaar, the Egyptian Spice Bazaar, the Archaeological Museum, the Aya Sofya and the Blue Mosque. Unfortunately, most of the photos I took inside these places turned out too blurry to be blog-worthy.

Ferries for crossing the Bosphorus between the Asian and European sides of the city.

We took a boat ride along the beautiful Bosporous and had one delightful culinary experience after another. So it stands to reason that I hope to be able to return to Turkey some day to re-experience it all but also to travel elsewhere in the country to see Cappadocia, and other archeological sights.


  1. Nic Freeman said,

    April 22, 2012 at 2:49 am

    Thanks for the link back Karen! Isn’t this place amazing? Glad you liked it and look to return one day. I’m finding it even more delightful the second time around.

  2. ReStitch Me said,

    April 22, 2012 at 10:32 am

    What wonderful memories and pictures!

  3. April 23, 2012 at 9:38 am

    Our favorite vacation ever was to Turkey! Thanks for sharing your memories. 🙂

  4. Maysem said,

    April 26, 2012 at 9:08 am

    Thanks Karen for sharing your Turkey trip! I went in 2004 (pre-marriage) and your post jogged so many wonderful memories. I too want to return and enjoy it more than I did the first time. I went with a group, so we did get to visit quite a few cities. We landed in Istanbul but from there flew straight to Ankara where our travels began (on bus!) We stayed in Ankara for a couple of days and from there visited a few cities making our way back to Istanbul. We did visit was absolutely amazing. My favorite was the city of Rumi… Konya! I fell in love with that place. After that, Istanbul was second in line. I did see a lot of the places you mentioned… however missed out on the Spice Bazaar:( I heard it has one of the most amazing spices in the world… so it would have been nice to take some home with me. I actually have spoken to my husband about making a trip there this summer… If I do I’ll let you know:)

    • April 26, 2012 at 10:04 am

      If you get to go again I am so excited for you! I hope you will write about it, even if your blog is primarily crafts related! And you got to see Cappadocia! Too cool. 🙂 I’ll have to look up about Rumi to see what else I’ve been missing.

  5. May 27, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    […] Memories of Istanbul ( […]

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