spices istanbul

Istanbul is Larger Than Life

After leaving Croatia early, John and I were looking for a place to go next. It had to be friendly, interesting, close and outside the Schengen Area. I'd always wanted to visit Turkey and John had such a wonderful time there seven years ago that it was an easy decision to go back. We'd start in Istanbul, of course.

turkey flag

Turkey's flag

With over 13 million people, 5,343 square kilometers (2,063 sq miles) and straddling two continents, Istanbul is quite literally an enormous city. But it isn't just the statistics that make it feel so big. Its seven hills dwarf you as you stand, taking in all the sights, smells, sounds and tastes coming from every direction. I'm a big-city girl but nothing prepared me for such a gigantic place.

Big Domes and Spaces

Hagia Sophia dome

The dome of the Aya Sofya, completed in 537

Hagia Sophia interior

and its big space (with big crowds to fill it).

blue mosque ceiling

The big arches and dome of the Blue Mosque, built by Sultan Ahmet I to outdo the Aya Sofya.

Basilica cistern Istanbul

The underground Basilica Cistern, once used to store water for the Great Palace

ciragan palace istanbul

The Ciragan Palace, where we enjoyed a delicious anniversary dinner.

Big, Bold Colours and Smells

fabric istanbul

Beautiful textures and fabrics in every colour of the rainbow

spices istanbul

Exotic spices and delicacies at the Spice Bazaar

topkapi palace stained glass windows

Intricate windows in the Harem at Topkapi Palace

Big Tastes

fishing in the bosphorus

Locals fish in the big Bosphorus.

mussels istanbul

Big mussels on offer in the street

turkish dessert

Big Baklava and sweet treats in so many windows

turkish ice cream

Turkish ice cream with pistachio nuts

turkish kebaps

A kebap on every corner

istanbul fine dining

Eat simply or like a sultan!

Our feast for the senses will last two weeks...have you been to Turkey? What did you like best?


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7 years ago

Hi Andrea, thank you for such a nice post with nice shots. There are lots of things to say about this timeless city, street foods, culture, warm people, rich history…

11 years ago

I’ve always heard about Istanbul as a beautiful city with glorious architecture and your pictures are proof! Love the shot of the teas/spices! mmm!


It’s such a fantastic place – try to make it there if you can! =)

11 years ago

Wow – I seem to have missed your Turkey posts; bit jealous that you’ve been to Istanbul, it’s waaay up there on my list. The architecture looks awe inspiring and same goes for the food!

Reply to  Robin

How I would love to read a Robin Graham story on Turkey!! It’s a fascinating place, not to mention all the delicious food. I’ve fallen in love with it…you and K MUST go =)

11 years ago

What is there not to love about Istanbul and Turkey. Just spent a month there and one week sailing. You have to get to Urgup and see more of Cappadoccia it is epic.

I couldn’t agree with you more – I’ve fallen in love with Turkey and can’t wait to come back. A week’s sail here would be magic!

11 years ago

Great photo collection – glad you made it to Istanbul! Did you eat a grilled fish sandwich near the bridge?
Will you be visiting Cappadocia soon? It’s a must to any Turkey itinerary

Reply to  Cam

Grilled fish sandwich? No…but we will now before we leave! =) John visited Cappadocia last time he was here but unfortunately we only have 12 days and just don’t have time =( This won’t be our last visit here, though so we’ll be sure to see it next time. Thanks for the tip, guys! =)

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