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Istanbul. From Russia with Love.

Updated: May 26, 2022

Istanbul was the location of my favourite of all Bond films and yet it was never on my travel agenda. It was only by pure circumstance and an unexpected series of events that I found myself here..

I am so fortunate to have travelled to Istanbul.

The film's locations were somehow detached from my memory and I never took much notice of the locations seeing them as merely a background of no consequence or relevance to me.

I have never symbolised Istanbul with the film, 'From Russia with love', In March 2022, that all changed and in a big way.

I have never considered that in my lifetime I would visit Istanbul, nor to do so to meet a Russian woman and both were inconceivable to me. To then do both and be unknowingly retracing Bond's footsteps to these exact same locations is completely off the charts of reality.

These locations I photographed actually feature in 'From Russia with love'. The Hagia Sofia, the bridge, the alleyways entering the market, the boat scene with the Palace gates in the background.

The one location I was not able to visit, which was sadly closed during my stay, and I already decided to return to experience it, was the Basilica Cistern. This also features prominently in the end scenes of the DaVinci Code 'Inferno' and was on my list to visit.

Was this in my subconscious? I don't believe so, but it was serendipitous.

How did we get here? Over the past year and a half, I have grown close to Svetlana who lives in St Petersburg, Russia. With Covid and then the invasion of the Ukraine, Russians were extremely limited as to where they could travel and I had not yet received the HQS Visa to travel to Russia. Our meeting for the first time face to face was delayed.

As we planned to meet, we considered Helsinki Finland, which is close to St Petersburg, but I needed to leave the Schengen states to renew my 90 day entry to Germany. UK was convenient for me, but not possible for Svetlana. Bulgaria and various other options were quickly discounted and we kept coming back to Istanbul.

Surely there is somewhere else?

I thought the decision was not ideal, but in selecting this destination, I started on a journey that had me retracing Bond's footsteps and doing so with a Russian woman. What made this even stranger was that it was not until I returned to Berlin and by pure coincidence decided to watch again 'From Russia with Love', that the connection hit me.

Now Istanbul has an even stronger attachment to me and the film.

©2022 Noel Castley-Wright

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