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Jun 24, 2013

Istanbul, Not Constantinople

As many of you know from reading previous cruise posts, Istanbul was one of the top cities we wanted to visit while cruising around the Mediterranean. In fact, we probably wouldn't have booked a cruise at all if Istanbul wasn't included in any of the ports of call. It's always been a city that's fascinated me; the culture, the long, complicated Byzantine and Ottoman histories, the architecture, the Islam religion, and of course, the rulings of the empire by various opulent Sultans. I swear, every street, mosque, and building in the entire city is named after one sultan or another. History is definitely alive and well in bustling Istanbul.

Istanbul, formerly known as Constantinople (try getting that song out of your head now), the capital of Turkey for 16 centuries, is where East meets West...literally. Divided by one of the world's busiest waterways, the Bosphorus, one half of Istanbul lies in Europe, while the other resides in Asia. With the second largest population in the world (14 million, give or take a couple hundred), Istanbul is a far cry from the quaint and quiet Greek towns we previously visited on our cruise. The European side being the most densely populated, it's Istanbul's historic and economic hub...and is also where we spent most of our time while touring this illusive city.

Instead of going with one of the ship's overpriced and overcrowded tours, we opted to hire a private tour guide to take us around to Istanbul's most recognizable sights. This tour was one we shared with 5 other couples who I met on the Cruise Critic forum and were also sailing on our ship. Our tour guide, Funda of KSG Tours, was an absolute delight and really knew her stuff. With only 1 and a half days to see all that Istanbul had to offer (our ship was docked overnight...which made our time there even more enjoyable!), we couldn't have picked a better line up of sights, nor a better tour company to work with. Our day started bright and early at 6 am as we floated into the Golden Horn harbor just as the sun was coming up. D and I were both wide awake with cameras in hand to watch as our giant ship pulled into port. Compared to the quiet waters around the Greek ports we'd previously visited, the Bosphorus was crowded with early morning fishermen and freight ships passing through its strait. D and I ate our scrumptious room service breakfast from the comfort of our balcony while watching Istanbul come to life that morning. It totally got us both hyped up for what fun we had to come that day. There is so much to show and tell you about our time here, so I'll have to break Istanbul up into a few posts. I'm sure you won't mind. ;) Coming up...experiencing the Hippodrome & Blue Mosque! Happy Monday, dears!

In case you've missed any of my Mediterranean cruise recaps thus far, you can play catch-up here!


  1. I'm jealous! Istanbul looks so cool!

  2. I'll be following along. What cruise line did you use? I just came back from a Mediterranean cruise that took us to Italy, Greece, and Croatia. I wanted to go to Turkey as well but we couldn't find the right one.

    -Brittany Ruth

  3. Wow, Istanbul looks amazing. Looks like I'm going to have to take a Mediterranean Cruise sometime in the near future. I've really enjoyed all of the related posts.

  4. Merhaba! I'm really jealous now. I spent about 7 weeks living in Turkey one summer and miss it terribly. Can't wait to see more pics.

  5. Aww we wanted to go here during 2nd Eid in October...but with all the unrest...

  6. Looks so fun! I love your blog. You will have to post the name of the tour guide. We are going on a cruise to Istanbul next year.

  7. Gah I just loved thsi city. I only had a couple nights and it just wasn't enough! So much to see and culture to soak up!

  8. Lovely pics! I'm itching to get there soooo badly!!!

  9. I will be in turkey in less then2 weeks! bit nervous!

    Love, The mind of an exchange

  10. Love, Love, Love! I want to go to Turkey so bad!

  11. Wow, looks like a whole different world! Can't wait for more posts!

    I just started a blog if you're interested =]

    A Golden State of Mind

  12. this is so beautiful! instanbul is a major one on our bucket list right now!

  13. What gorgeous photos - a beautiful city!

    Sparkles and Shoes

  14. I have never wanted to visit Istanbul but these photos are amazing

  15. These photos are amazing! My parents visited Istanbul and loved it. It's on my travel bucket list for sure!

    Erin x

  16. Oh, such beautiful photos! I love the subtle coloours of the first ones!
    I think that Istanbul is a really interesting city with such a rich history and mix a cultures. I hope I can go there some day!

    Looking forward to reading more about Istanbul in upcoming posts :)
    xo Irene

  17. Marvellous landscapes! Very very beautiful! We have a post on Istanbul on our blog too...check it out at www.theromrom.com


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