Istanbul, Turkey – Spring 2014

Travel Photography


The unexpected weekend in Istanbul turned out to be a colorful and rich experience. The first thing that caught my eye upon arrival was the diversity; there was a variety of everything: colors, architecture, people, cars, plants, and smells. I had to keep my camera ready as my eyes constantly captured new scenes and compositions with a blend of colors and unexpected combinations. On the way from the airport, my attention was drawn to the roads, which were in good condition, but filled with many cars and traffic jams. However, the beautiful scenery could be admired from almost anywhere in the city.

Families singing in cars while stuck in traffic brought smiles to my face. I was delighted to see well-maintained roadsides adorned with colorful tulips, displaying all the colors of the rainbow. The city was adorned with colorful houses and mosques in every district, creating a vibrant and lively atmosphere.

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In the area of Istiklal Street and Galata Tower, where we stayed, many street musicians, artists, night-time party-goers, and vibrant youth gather in the evenings. As we strolled through the narrow streets of Istanbul in the evening, each turn revealed something new and interesting. The bustling streets of nightclubs transformed into alleys of street food vendors and souvenir shops, alongside designer clothing stores and serene deserted streets. The contrast of old and new was evident, with the noisy crowd complemented by moments of ringing silence and darkness, beggars, and well-dressed individuals.

Walking down to the embankment, the aroma of fried fish in bread filled the air, though we hesitated to try it. The bridge leading to the other side was crowded with fishermen standing so close to each other, you could hardly believe their fishing rods didn’t get tangled up. They offered freshly caught fish for sale right on the spot. Under the bridge, a quarter with restaurants tempted us, and we decided to indulge ourselves with a nicely baked perch, although we were aware of the tourist trap. To give credit where it’s due, the fish turned out to be delicious. As real tourists, we couldn’t resist the local treats, and it proved to be a satisfying experience.

The next day, we ventured into the religious part of Istanbul, where the main mosques are located: the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, along with the beautiful Gulhane Park, which happened to host the Tulip Festival during our visit. The sight of the colorful meadows and a lovely tea house perched on a rock overlooking the Bosphorus, connecting the Black and Marmara Seas, left us with incredible impressions on that pleasant spring sunny day.

As evening approached, everyone went about their business. Some of the group headed to The North Shield Pub to watch football, while I continued my exploration of interesting streets in search of delicious Turkish coffee. A small, unassuming café caught my eye and enticed me inside, offering the chance to savor authentic Turkish coffee and baklava while experiencing genuine Turkish hospitality.

As the sun began to set, we discovered an exceptional spot for dinner – Leb-i-Derya, a rooftop cocktail bar with a breathtaking view of Istanbul illuminated by its dazzling night lights.

On the last day, we met up with Katya and embarked on a new route to explore the center of Istanbul. Our final destination was the embankment, where we hopped on a pleasure boat for a tour of the Bosphorus. Viewing Istanbul from the strait added even more colors and beauty to the city. Old fortresses and palaces, vibrant houses and blooming trees, glistening sea water, and the bridges connecting the two parts of the city created a picturesque scene.

After taking in the sights, we headed back home and decided to stop by the oldest confectionery in Istanbul – Hafiz Mustafa 1864. Its stunning interior adorned with multi-colored tiles left us enchanted. Of course, the highlight was the vast assortment of halva, Turkish delights, baklava, and a variety of other oriental sweets.

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During those few days, we explored only the European part of Istanbul, catching glimpses of the Asian part from the boat. Next time, I would love to venture across to the Asian side and discover many more fascinating places beyond the city center. Istanbul is a captivating city that beckons you to return, as it holds countless hidden gems and unexplored wonders.

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