St Joseph’s weekend 2011 – Istanbul

St Joseph’s weekend 2011 in Istanbul

My three sisters and I were invited by Paulo Coelho to attend his annual St Joseph’s day party at the Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul.

We arrived late on 18th March and were greeted at the airport by the Pera Palace Hotel driver.  We had already made reservations for dinner at 10pm at the 360 restaurant. However, due to traffic we were running late, so we asked the driver to drop us directly to the restaurant and take our bags to the hotel.

The driver was very kind and walked us to the restaurant, he asked us to be cautious and get a taxi back to the hotel, even though it was only a 5/10 min walk from the restaurant.

The 360 restaurant was beautiful, it had breathtaking views of the architecture of Istanbul.  The restaurant food, just like the city was a delicious combination of east and west.

After we left the restaurant we hailed a taxi to the Pera Palace hotel, which our driver had said was only a brief walk.  When we arrived at the hotel the taxi driver told us that the cost of the ride was 50 liras.  This was a totally outrageous amount (about £25) for a 2min drive.  My sister asked me to call the concierge to confirm what the cost should be.  The concierge was shocked, he told us to go inside the hotel and not pay the driver who was being totally unreasonable.  The next thing we knew was that the police were taking the drivers details.

We then checked into the hotel, whose guests had included Agatha Christie and Greta Garbo. The hotel was so calm and beautifully designed with its colonnaded marble hall and antique furniture.  We went to have a look at our rooms, which had gorgeous balconies with stunning views of the Golden Horn Harbour.

After our little incident with the local taxi driver we decided we would go and relax with a hot chocolate in the lobby. The concierge guided us to the Orient Bar where in a previous era Ernest Hemingway had drunk many whiskies.  We walked into the bar and there was a small buzz in the centre – well this could only mean one thing……

There are only very few people in the world who have the ability to light up a room and Paulo Coelho is one of them.  He greeted us with so much love, as is his nature.  He introduced us to few of his friends and also to a gentleman called Serdar Ozkan, a very famous Turkish author.  Of course, due to an ignorance of Turkish literature we had no idea who Serdar was.  He very kindly offered to give us a few copies of his book (translated into English), which he had with him.  When we flicked through we realized that in fact his book ‘The Missing Rose’ was a bestseller and had been translated into over 40 languages! He was so modest.

The next day we decided to have afternoon tea at the hotel, since it had been highly recommended.  It was truly spectacular, finger sandwiches, cakes and scones.  Not a good idea if you want to fit into your dress in the next few hours!

In the evening it was the party and Paulo had asked me to say a prayer.  We came down in time for the cocktail reception and met with Lainee, Kealan, Breda, Keith, Ken, Ume and Rosa.

Paulo and Christina greeted everyone with love and respect.  The evening started with Paulo telling us all why he celebrates St Joseph’s Day. A great story, which you can hear in the clip below.

The prayers all went beautifully followed by the delicious food (see Keith’s blog for the menu and music details).

We left a little before the party finished, but I made sure that I didn’t miss Paulo’s lovely song (accompanied by Rudolph Schenker on the guitar) before we finally retired for the evening.

 

 

We had a fantastic time and we would like to thank you dearest Paulo and dearest Christina for your kind invitation and your unrivalled hospitality.

Comments
10 Responses to “St Joseph’s weekend 2011 – Istanbul”
  1. keithpp says:

    You would have experienced the real Istanbul had you crossed the river and visited and ate in the old city.

    Yes, you were ripped off by the taxi driver, and I am glad the police took details. The hotel though was wrong to tell you to take a taxi, you could easily have walked and it would have been safe to have done so.

    Everyone was on the make, including taxi drivers. When Elaine came down into the old city, it was 10 lire. A taxi back wanted 15 lire. I said no, it is ten lire and the taxi driver settled for 10.

    When I went up to the party from the old city I was only charged 9 lire so I told him to keep the change for his honesty.

    But more fun to take the funicular then the tram.

    Elif
    Turkish coffee
    Thoughts and impressions of Istanbul
    Paulo Coelho Press Conference at Pera Palace Hotel
    Baba Zula
    Paulo Coelho’s St Joseph’s Day Party at Pera Palace Hotel

    • Priya Sher says:

      Dear Keith,

      I have been to Istanbul before and visited the old city and it is lovely. This time we only had half a day so stayed local.

      In many places you get taxi drivers that try and take advantage. The hotel driver was not wrong to ask us to be safe – it was very late about 10.30pm and we had just arrived directly from the airport, he had walked us through a few side roads to get us to the restaurant and knew we were a little disorientated.

      All in all it was a great experience and the hotel staff were really amazing.

      Regards

      Priya

  2. Mary Margaret Wieczorek says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience in Turkey with Paul Coelo. I have happy memories of my two visits to Istanbul, it is a magical place and I love it. In Spain St Joseph is honoured too, 19th March is a national holiday – Spanish Fathers Day.

  3. keithpp says:

    Like you, I too met Serdar Ozkan, unbeknown to me a very famous Turkish author. Like you I had had no idea who Serdar was. Unfortunately I did not get offered copies of his book The Missing Rose. I too found him to be very modest. I do though know who Orhan Pamuk is, another very famous Turkish writer, a Nobel Prize winner no less!

    part of the ocean

  4. Dr Pooja says:

    Hi Priya
    i read all of your’s experiences about Istanbul including Ken, Keith,Kealan &then also seems like wanting for more……..saw the pics in Keith’s blog -Istanbul is incredibly beautiful
    glad to know you all had a great time there in the magical presence of Paulo himself
    Take Care
    Love
    Dr Pooja Tripathi

  5. Dear Priya, Thanks for share this amazing experience with us. All the Turkey party seems to be great! 🙂

    Paulo is unique!

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