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  • Nia Alexander Campbell

Intro to Istanbul

What You’ll Find in This Post:

  • An overview of my trip to Istanbul – Who, what, when, where, why, and how


This giant door is a part of Dolmabahçe Palace

Istanbul! What a doozy this trip was. As the weeks go on, I’ll get into all the nooks and crannies of what my experience was like in the city, but for now, let me just run you through the basics.

Where did I go

Istanbul, Turkey. The AirBnB was specifically in Kadıköy.

That’s where Turkey is

And that blue dot is where Istanbul is

Istanbul literally sits between two continents. It’s one of the most historically significant cities in the world in part because of that prime geographic real estate.

When did I go?

The flowers were in bloom, but not so fresh with pollen as to trigger my allergies. Here I am enjoying the fact I’m tall enough to reach the top of a tree in Gülhane Park.

I went in spring 2018, the end of April and beginning of May (which meant the weather was great). The thing is, this timeline coincided with finals week at VCUQ, meaning I had to 1) Hang my thesis exhibit two weeks early (followed by my final thesis critique) and 2) Seek to turn in two of my finals at midnight in a Turkish airport. There were a few hiccups, but overall things went a-okay thanks to some early planning, timely requests, supportive faculty, and the fact I had worked my ass off that semester, and everybody knew I earned that break.

I returned to Qatar just in time for graduation.

How long was I there?

Gesturing dramatically about something in Emirgan Park

I was there for 12 days . . . it was supposed to be 11. Yeah, I’ll talk about that sometime later.

How did I get there?

Arriving in Turkey. The photo (courtesy of Paulo Fugen) makes this budget flight look much more majestic than it actually was

I got to there on 4.5 hour flight from Doha to Istanbul on a terrible budget airline. That said, let the records show that we returned to Qatar on a totally different airline (after the first airline proved to be terrible in trying to get us back home too).

Who was I with?

My (very new) partner

You’ll see this camera pop up in the upcoming posts. My partner was the one who brought it, despite my cringe

Why was I there?

Walking toward a piece of what remains of the Walls of Constantinople (photo courtesy of Paulo Fugen)

I was there just to explore and have fun. I realized weeks later that it was a vacation, my first vacation, in fact. It was my first time experiencing a country where I (and my travelling bud) had full reign over what we did and when we did it.

Last thoughts

Amongst the flowers in Eyüp Cemetery. Sounds odd when you read it, but it’s a beautiful place.

It seems important to note that my adventure in Istanbul was my second trip on top of a trip. You see, I was studying abroad as a semester exchange student at VCUarts Qatar in Spring 2018. While there, I took a trip to Athens with the university in March, then took this personal trip to Istanbul in April.

I also want to point out that the idea of going to Istanbul started off as a joke. During a casual conversation with one of the other exchange students outside a mall, she casually told me that I should go to Istanbul too (because, you see, she had recently returned from Istanbul herself). I texted my partner saying something to the effect of “Let’s go to Istanbul lol”, and the next thing I know he’s researching plane tickets and telling me it’s possible.

In short, my decision to go to Istanbul was undeniably unexpected. I consider it the closest thing to a “young, wild, & free, crazy kid, YOLO, I’m 21 let’s party” decision that I’ve ever made.

And, boy, was it worth it.

There was definitely an array of ups and downs during that time, and I look forward to sharing them with you over the next couple of weeks because all of them contributed to making Istanbul one of the best memories I have and a genuine adventure.


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