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  • Writer's pictureMaria Vandenburg

The Return to Istanbul

Updated: May 21

I have always loved to travel. In my early 20s, I made the decision that my priority (in terms of time, energy, and effort) would be travel. My savings would (and for the most part still does) all go towards it. It would come to be my source of fuel.


Beautiful Ceiling in Istanbul
Beautiful Ceiling in Istanbul

The First Trip

While working at The Seattle Times many years ago, I took a few weeks off to travel to Turkiye with two friends. We had two weeks in the country and planned to visit as many places as possible. 😽

Cityview of Istanbul
Cityview of Istanbul

That didn't happen. We fell in love with Istanbul and ended up staying there 10 out of our 14 days. My return this past week just renewed all of these feelings.


Domb in Topkapi Palace
Domb in Topkapi Palace

The Return

Istanbul was our first stop for a sacred travel trip with Rev. Kathianne Lewis and the Center for Spiritual Living (both of whom I love).


The trip began on May 4th, when a good majority of us were on the same flight from Seattle. I can't sleep on planes, so that night looked like dinner at the Divan Pub in our beautiful hotel, Divan Istanbul Hotel, and bed.


May 5th was a day of rest before the tour officially began. My "day of rest" turned into a day of shopping. 🤓 That evening we gathered so Kathianne could set ground rules (like no complaining - you would be surpised how much energy this particular rules keeps clear), and we all set intentions.

Mine were

  • 🌷To bond deeply with the group and have them come to feel like family

  • 🌷To open up to all of the mystical experiences that I was supposed to receive

And on May 6th, we started. Hakan (our tour guide who we all came to love) picked us up bright and early and we made our way to the...


Hagia Sophia:

Hagia Sophia has always been one of my favorites. Similar to how I felt while walking through Cordoba in Spain, I loved physically walking through a melting pot of different cultures and religious practices.

Hagia Sophia Arches
Hagia Sophia Arches

Hagia Sophia Pulpits
Hagia Sophia Pulpits

Haghia Sophia Mariam and Yeshua
Haghia Sophia Mariam and Yeshua

The Blue Mosque

Will always be sentimental to me as it was the first Mosque I ever set foot in and heard the call to prayer from.

Blue Mosque Intricate Detail
Blue Mosque Intricate Detail

Blue Mosque Take Two
Blue Mosque Take Two

and

Topkapi Palace


The afternoon found us exhausted, and after hearing all about the eunuchs (and no, I'm not kidding), we cut the end of the tour short and went back to rest.

Hakan (our fabulous guide) leading us through the Haram of Topkapi Palace
Hakan (our fabulous guide) leading us through the Haram of Topkapi Palace

Having been to those places before, and suffering from jet lag, I expected to be underwhelmed as they couldn't be as breathtaking as they were the first time I saw them. Right? Wrong



Sultans Room at Topkapi Palace
Sultans Room at Topkapi Palace

It still makes my heart flutter looking at these pictures even now, weeks later.

Windows and Caligraphy at Hagia Sophia
Windows and Caligraphy at Hagia Sophia

I was amazed at how tired and sore my legs were. Dinner was at a delicious restaurant across the street, and an early night prepare for a morning flight to Capadoccia.🚀

MUCH different than my first trip in my 20s (where I may or may not have had two different "boyfriends" in 10 days 😇)


Even though this visit to Istanbul was a little over 24 hours, I still loved every single moment of it. Even when I was hot, tired and my feet ached. Because, I remembered that my feet ached in Istanbul. 🤯


This city is magical, if you have never been before I highly recommend!

If you would like to read about my original 10 days there, check out my old travel blog here:

https://mariavandenburg.wordpress.com/

You can purchase my first book Crown Jewels: The Akasha Records (Book One) here:

You can out more about the The Akasha Records Journey (aka course/embodiment experiment here)

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