A magical winter night in Istanbul

I arrived in Istanbul on a crisp, cool afternoon following a short flight in from Skopje, finally finishing off my four day journey that started in Stockholm. I had managed to parlay a single one-way award ticket into a three-night adventure where every stop was wonderful in its own way. Istanbul, however, was the jewel in the crown, so to speak. It was wonderful. It was beautiful. And it was snowing.


Apparently snow is rare in Istanbul. This was my 5th consecutive city over the previous 7 days where my arrival was heralded by snow. It was a light flurry, no real accumulation, and it gave the city a beautiful glow, over and above the regular level of amazing that its history and culture provide.


I watched the sun set as I rode the metro into town from the airport and quickly dropped my bag off in the hotel room in order to enjoy the sights at night, a view I had not previously experienced. It was awesome.


The streets of the Sultanahmet were quiet, save for the occasional taksi or streetcar rolling through. A few tourists wandered about near me but nothing like the crowds of a summer day. I was nearly alone with the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Sarai, able to celebrate them all by myself.

The cold eventually started to set in, as did hunger; it was time to find dinner. As I walked back towards my hotel – I had seen plenty of restaurants in the neighboring streets – I happened past an outdoor café with a group of musicians playing in the back. And there was just enough heat available that I figured I probably wouldn’t completely freeze. I settled in for an Iskender, an Effes and a set with the band.


I’m sure that it wasn’t the best music ever, but they were clearly enjoying themselves and that was all it took for me to also enjoy the experience. Not every night on every trip has that magical sensation. This was a special night in many ways.

Read more of my EuroHopping adventure here.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. What, no carpet salesmen giving you compliments and offering you tea outside of the Blue Mosque, ‘just come to my uncle’s carpet store’??????

    1. Definitely no carpet salesmen out and about. I suppose that’s another great reason to go off-season: with fewer “marks” out on the streets they just don’t bother.

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