ABCs of Istanbul

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M is for minarets, a dramatic part of Istanbul’s skyline, especially at night.

Istanbul marks Untour number ten for Sandra Kohler and Walt Hagenbuch. They were captivated (and occasionally overwhelmed) by their experiences in Istanbul. As a poet, Sandra has a keen eye for detail, and here her experience finds an outlet in this thoughtfully drafted vocabulary list. In her travel journal, Sandra fleshed out her own alphabet to succinctly capture Istanbul’s magic. Walt’s photographs round out their experience. I hope you enjoy Sandra’s well chosen words and Walt’s beautiful images. And if you have your own words to add (especially to cover Q, X, Y, and Z) please add them in a comment. Read Sandra and Walt’s full trip log here. And enjoy dreaming about Istanbul!

An Istanbul Alphabet
by Sandra Kohler, photos by Walt Hagenbuch

A – Attaturk, ayran (a cold yogurt drink), apple teaHale, Istanbul Untours staff

B – the Bosporus, bottled water, backgammon, the Blue Mosque

C – Call to Prayer, corba (soup), cats, cobblestones, Chora Church, carpets, carpet salesmen

D – dervishes (didn’t see any though)  

E – ezan (the Call to Prayer), earrings

F – friends, friendliness, fabrics, fruit

G – gatherings of men in cafes, etc.

H – Hale (our Untours staff person), Hagia Sophia, headscarves, hills, harbor

I – Islam, Islands (the Princes’ Islands), Innocence (the Museum of)

J – the Janissary Band

K – Kennedy Cadesi, kebabsJanissary Band, Istanbul Untour

L – lentil soup, the light which is like Venice’s light 

M – mosques, minarets, the muzzein (man who chants the Call to Prayer                    

N – narghiles (Turkish water pipes), narrow streets

O – the Ottoman Empire, Ottoman cuisine

P – pomegranates, pistachios, Orhan Pamuk, the Istanbul Photography Museum


R – the headbands for women or girls of artificial roses sold everywhere

S – simits, Sultans, the Sultanahmet Suites, the mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent, salesmen, scarves, shawls, shepherd’s salad (served everywhere)

T – tea, traffic, tomatoes (always ripe and delicious), trams, taxis   Rose vendor, Istanbul Untour

U – Untours: the best way for a neophyte to visit Istanbul

V – views

W – water: the Sea of Marmara, the Bosporus, the glimpses of water everywhere from the city; walls: enormous ancient city walls


Sandra Kohler is a writer, poet, and former teacher who has enjoyed the opportunity to travel that she and her husband, Walt Hagenbuch, a retired educator, have discovered under Untours’ auspices. She has had three collections of poems (The Country of Women, The Ceremonies of Longing, and Improbable Music) published since 1995. They’re available on Amazon. Her poems have also been widely published in literary magazines, and many can be found on line by Googling her.

Have your own vocabulary words? Add your own entries in comments! And click here to read Sandra’s more in depth impressions of Istanbul and see more of Walt’s stirring images.

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