Harem or Cradle of Cultures – Istanbul

Istanbul – the cradle of history, great imperias and culture. It is the place where two continents collide. The city where you can find capitalist skyscrapers, catholic churches with african priest and islamic mosques full of handcrafted marvelous ornaments.

Istanbul is the city where you can get bored or you can get inspired for a long time.

As I am always saying, the experience of a place, country, city or village depends on the people you meet there and places you visit. I have been in Istanbul five times. Each time it was 3 or less than 3 days, but this time it was a week – a whole 7 days full of people, emotions, tastes and sounds.


First day we visited Couchsurfing meeting in Istanbul. I must mention that it was one of the largest CS meetings I have ever been. On the way to the meeting I was worrying that we might not find the place, since on Taksim square there were construction works, and it required several turns to find the place. Surprisingly we saw the huge sign – “Couchsurfing meeting that way >>” . And when we reached the venue there was “Welcome” sign. It made me happy in a way.

Istanbul Couchsurfing meeting

Whenever you visit a city, Couchsurfing makes it much interesting and exciting. Lovely people, local people, travelers and totally random people who are nice and friendly to you.

Harem and Topkapi Saray

Topkapi – the temple of the Sultan. Collection of all of the wealth that sultans had, gold, rubins, ivory, etc.  If anyone in the way religious it might be interesting visiting the part of Topkapi where the beard, tooth and different body parts of prophets are located (it actually did not please me – reserved body parts of dead people…auch). Spectacular gardens full of different tulips that some Dutch florists may envy (I guess I am overrating).

Harem – HOLLY SHITT!!!! Sorry for bad language, but really it’s significantly marvelous place. Every single wall in harem is handcraft artwork of sultan knows how many people. Tulip ornaments are all over the place and not a single room is repeating itself. I am not even trying to imagine how long did it take to decorate such a big place.

Harem ornament 1 Harem ornament 2

Harem ornament 5 Harem ornament 4

Street Music in Istanbul

Until last week the only cities that was tagged with “music” in my mind were Tbilisi, Vilnius and Riga.  Since I started to play in Tbilisi, I experienced Street Music Festival in Vilnius and I stumbled up on many friendly street musician and stage musicians in Riga, and yes we jammed in Riga Backpackers Pub.

Today Istanbul goes to this list. I listened to many street bands and musicians in Istanbul – Canadian jazz band Tcha Badjo, Russian band from France playing on balalaikas, Turkish balkan style jazzy music band, Japanese hang player, Gypsy band, etc. It is tremendous feeling being able to hear large varieties of music in one day and on the one street – Istiklal.

gypsy band

Turkish band

Canadian jazz band

Guitar girl

Balalaika band

Chinese hang player


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