It didn’t seem possible. Had our 91 days in Istanbul really come to an end? I couldn’t believe it, so I opened my journal and counted the pages. Although it felt as though we’d just arrived… although we were still in the process of settling into the city’s rhythm… that was it. Our time in Istanbul had reached its conclusion.
Having taken a couple months off after an action-packed 91 days in Idaho, we were unusually well-prepared for our time in Istanbul. We’d read books about the city and watched a few movies set on its streets. We had pored over guidebooks, compiled lists of things to do, and even learned some of the language. Istanbul was the largest city we had yet tackled, and we wanted to hit the ground running.
Over the course of three months, we barely rested. Every day was occupied by a visit to another museum, mosque or church. Taking another ferry ride, exploring a different neighborhood, meeting a new acquaintance, trying out a restaurant or bar… usually a combo of at least three such activities. “No time, no time!” soon became our motto, as we shuffled breathlessly from one sight to the next. Mosque, museum, bar. Ferry, mosque, cafe.
I won’t lie: Istanbul wore us out. In our final weeks, we started to strike things from our list (apologies to Belgrade Forest), in favor of a few more leisurely hours in our favorite hangouts. But the quieter memories will be among those which most endure. Sitting across from the Maiden’s Tower, a light rain tapping onto the umbrella above our heads. Discovering a tea garden in Kadiköy and joining backgammon-playing students in hours-long nargile sessions. Relaxing in Gülhane Park with a simit and a view of the Bosphorus. Listening to the calls to prayer while sipping rakı at a rooftop terrace.
Istanbul is an amazing city, completely unlike any other place we’ve been. There’s so much history here, so many stories. And as we were reminded in our final weekend, Istanbul is not all about the past — it’s vibrantly alive. The Gezi Park protests awakened in us a new respect for the city’s citizens; a liberal, secular minority often at odds with the rest of Turkey. Clearly, this is a people determined to defend their city as a haven for tolerance, environmentalism and modernity in an increasingly conservative and capitalist country.
So, we leave exhausted, but with the knowledge that we’ll never forget our time here, nor look back on it with anything other than warmth. These were three of the most entertaining months of our lives. We learned so much, met so many wonderful people, ate such incredible food, and visited sights which rank among the world’s most amazing… Istanbul has enriched our lives in ways we’ll probably never fully understand. And for that, we can only say “Thanks”.
This Post Has 14 Comments
Beautifully written and well described. I spend 12 days in Turkey last October and I deeply felt in love with Istanbul. It is such a wonderful and beautiful city and with so much going on that your really need to take a rest from time to time. I am always gonna treasure my last night overviewing the Golden Horn from Pierre Loti’s Café and the peacefulness walking around Sultanahmet at 2 am.
Haha! “No time! No time!” is right. I’m glad we had the chance to visit Istanbul with you guys. It is truly an incredible city, warranting much more than 91 days to know it well. I look forward to a future, Istanbul For Another 91 Days!
Love all of the photos from Istanbul. Looking forward to your next adventure. Thanks for sharing!
Dear Jürgen & dear Mike,As in every departure, it is sad to see you go. Thank you for your beautiful articles, for your awesome photos and for all you did. We are to miss you.We wish you a good luck and all the very best,Ali John
Hi Jürgen, Kind articles and photos, hope to see you and your friends in Türkiye soon again.
hi, you wrote these lines from the core of your heart, im going to Istanbul after 5 days. ur writing gave me a new vision of visiting istanbul. i’ll share my words when I’ll be back
hi 🙂 your blog is great . I live İstanbul but take advantage of your website 🙂 please look at my blog cigdembuga.blogspot.com
Dear Mike and Jürgen,Your blog about exploring some places really inspired me, especially about Istanbul. I love this city too, but unfortunately I don’t have chance to stay there more longer.Thank you for sharing your experiences and also for beautiful stunning pictures.I wish you both good luck in your every journey.And.., why not plan to stay in Indonesia for the next 91 days 🙂
Thank you so much for your kind comment. I checked out your blog … Indonesia is on our list but after seeing your volcano images … I want to go there now. Do you have some tips for 91 Days. Should we travel around or stay in one place. When is the best time to travel. And you enjoy your journeys as well 🙂
Hello Juergen,Indonesia is a big country with thousand islands, of course you need to explore, don’t just stay in one place. So many interesting places, for food, culture, beaches, view etc. Best time, I think between May -September, let’s discuss more on email. Write me to lilykalim @gmail.comI’ll be glad to help you.PS: sorry for the late reply.Enjoy your weekend 😉
Vay be elin turistleri gelip geziyor kitap bile yazıyor fotoğraflarla, biz gidip gezemiyoruz 🙂 Neyse ne yapalım gezeriz inşallah. Tebrik ederim Michael ve Jürgen. Gerçekten çok güzel iş çıkarmışsınız. (Okuyup anlamak isteyen translate eder kardeş 😀 )
Beatiful pictures, WE had 7 days only – you 84 more 😉
Dear Mike and Jurgen I have recently found your Istanbul blog and I read all your posts about the city in almost a week! I would like to thank you for the stunning photos and the witty and beautifully-written texts! I came back from a trip to Istanbul in April and your posts made me feel like I’m there again…I will definitely follow your blog from now on (Tokyo, wow!).. You are most welcome to come to Athens, my homeland (Mike, lots of doner here as well 😉 ).Thank you guys…For all!
Thanks for the inspiration and beatiful pictures. Never been to Turkey – but Istanbul is now on my bucket list 🙂 Just one question. Is Istanbul safe to explore, or should you stay away from certain areas?