Istanbul, Sepia Saturday & NFHM

Each weekend in August Aussie genealogy bloggers are participating in Family Tree Frog’s National Family History Month blog challenge. The topic is Genealife in Lockdown and I’ve chosen to be very liberal and lateral in my interpretation. As I mentioned last week, one topic occupying many minds in the last 18 months has been travel and the joys we’ve missed from it. So how could I avoid the temptation when I saw the Sepia Saturday theme for this week, with the image of a street in Istanbul! We visited Istanbul in 2014 and absolutely loved it for its diverse and exciting culture and history, truly where the East and the West meet. As we sailed into port on a magnificent morning, the scene of ancient buildings captured our hearts. I think it is probably the city I love most from among my travels.

Sailing into Istanbul is just spectacular!

So indulge along with me, as we explore some of our own experiences of Istanbul’s streets.

At any other time, waking up at midnight to the sound of a brass band playing may not be my idea of heaven, but in Istanbul it was just another excitement. In our lovely boutique hotel room we could happily fall back asleep. We saw the same band the next day as well – it was something to do with celebrating a football competition. Then there was the regular sound of the muezzin from the nearby mosques, calling the faithful to prayer. On our last night there was a concert being set up in one of the squares, and the dervishes were dancing.

We love markets wherever we go so our Culinary Backstreets Tour was just fabulous, being guided through old streets and lanes, and sampling so much food we were in danger of exploding! Do you like my little coronet of flowers that I got at one market – I brought one home for mum and this one was for our granddaughter.

You don’t typically associate harpists with Turkey but the sound of the harp while we had lunch and coffee was so tranquil. One of the reasons we loved Istanbul was the people’s affection and tolerance for cats. They pretty much have free rein and even strays are fed, with a shelter off the street for some.

The colours of the east prevail in Istanbul with so much vibrancy. The image on the bottom right is the drama of a particular dish having been cooked in a “plant pot”, the top was lopped off to serve the contents. It was Ramadan when we were there, and it was special to see the huge groups of families gathered in the parks to share their evening meal. Even though it was quite late, even little kids and the elderly were fully engaged.

Touring the markets and a shooting game at the waterfront to hit balloons (why?). I see I’ve doubled up with some pics here (oops).

Delicious food, fabulous colours and a very tempted cat.

You can wander almost any street in Istanbul and happen across something interesting and engaging. Somehow I don’t have a photo of the hilarious ice cream experience we had with our then-new friend from our cruise. On the flip side was this sad sight of a desperate Syrian family on the street near our hotel.

This is a snapshot from our pre-lockdown life and part of my own family story, so I’m going to justify my self-indulgence in sharing these collages.

Have you been to Istanbul? Did you love it or hate it? Is there a city that holds a place in your heart elsewhere?

We met our new friend Jan on the Mediterranean cruise, chatting over a coffee in Marmaris. She was the cheerleader encouraging me to persevere to the top of the acropolis in Lindos. She’s kindly shared this video clip of our ice cream entertainment in Istanbul. We hope it gives you all a chuckle, especially those in NSW currently in a state-wide lockdown.

14 thoughts on “Istanbul, Sepia Saturday & NFHM

  1. Oh, Cassmob – I loved this. Yes, we have been to Turkey, 2015. Your wonderful collage brought back so many memories. I kept looking for the ice cream trickster in the photos, so was happy when you showed it at the end. Our hotel was near the Bosphorus river, lovely view. All the fishermen on the bridge there. Thank you for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for visiting Isabel. We were there within a year of each other so we’d have seen similar sights. It’s a wonderful city! I think Jan coped so well with the trickster.


  3. Amazing assortment of pictures Pauleen. You’re the master. All of them are terrific. Not just the Istanbul ones (oh to revisit sometime) but all that you’ve included. In your post. Yes I did wonder if I would ever get to taste the ice cream. He was hilarious.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We too liked Istanbul when we visited in 1999. Our very blonde daughter a young teenager at the time, was not so fond of all the offers of marriage for the payment of 3 camels though!!! Great pictures which jog my memory of the Sophia Hagia, the Basilica cistern, and a memorable trip up the Bosphorous as well as much haggling in the grand bazaar. I have some lovely patterned tiles bought there which we use under hot dishes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like you had fun as well. I can imagine your daughter may not have enjoyed it so much. Is a bride price of 3 camels above or below par I wonder? I’m a terrible haggler so avoid it as much as possible.


  5. Wonderful pictures! So glad you’ve shared them. My favorite, though, is the one of the tempted cat. And I’ll bet you were just as tempted by all the wonders available – both to eat and to take home with you! A truly remarkable place. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a wonderful post — and a perfect pandemic topic. I have been “staycation-ing” in New York City for the second year in a row, so it is wonderful to vicariously go to Istanbul through your post. Such vibrant and engaging photos! My area of NYC has one of the largest Turkish populations, but they must be sorely disappointed that our shops are rather ho-hum by comparison.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. From your wonderful pictures and story, I can understand why it’s one of your favorite places. I’ve always wanted to visit Istanbul, and I always enjoy travel shows that feature it. Recently I read about Turkey’s massive construction project to build a canal to the west of Istanbul. When it’s finished it will change the geography and economy too.

    I read your earlier post on the Syrian refugee family that you met. It is heartbreaking how many refugees throughout the Middle East continue to be displaced by war, terrorism, and poverty. Like you, I’ve been a longtime supporter of in the hope that my “loans” might help someone survive in these tragic times. I wrote a story back in 2015 that is about refugees, and it ends with a CNN report about a small Syrian boy who plays a toy keyboard busking in the streets in order to help his family.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I tried to leave a link to my story in my comment above, but I guess it didn’t pass the test. If you Google “ ” and “Music without Borders”, it should pop up.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh Pauleen – what a great post. Just as well I have never been to Istanbul; I may never have left. It sounds like it has all the things that are dearest to my heart – beautiful food, wonderful sights, colour and cats!! I was not aware of icecream tricksters and will be on my guard for them in future.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I haven’t been to Istanbul Pauleen, but feel that I now have had a taste of it through your photos.I can see why it’s one of your favourite places. I love the icecream video. The place outside of Australia that has my heart is Vancover, Canada. I have many wonderful memories, and dearly hope to get back there post pandemic.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thankyou for sharing your stunning images which recall many memories of our wonderful times exploring Istanbul in 2007. It was certainly a vibrant city with friendly locals where we felt safe wandering around aimlessly. We are due to visit again late in 2022 but I don’t hold out many hopes for that happening.

    Liked by 1 person

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