In 2016, my love of Instagram reached a whole new level.
What used to be just another item on my endless to-do list has become a constant source of joy. It’s helped me get to know you better, improve my photography and facilitate many wonderful conversations.
I spend a lot of time working on my Instagram and it’s finally paying off. I used to think that getting over a thousand likes on a photo was a feat reserved for unicorns, fluffy dogs and bikini models. But over the past twelve months my likes have tripled, with my most successful photo getting 3,875 and counting. Whoa!
This post isn’t about my Instagram strategy though. It’s about my most popular photos of 2016 as decided by you and the stories behind them. However, if you’re interested in learning my top growth tips please let me know in a comment below.
Are you curious what kind of images did well on my account? Here they are. Spoiler alert: there isn’t a single bikini shot in sight which made me feel particularly proud.
10. Christmas in Vienna
The second it becomes socially acceptable to gush about Christmas – November 30th at 23:59:59 in case you were wondering – a switch flips in my brain. As the clock strikes midnight I turn from a semi-tolerable human being into a obstreperous elf.
Don’t worry if you don’t know what obstreperous means. I only learned the word yesterday and have been dying to use it ever since. I’m all about setting realistic goals in 2017!
My elfishness manifests itself in a myriad of ways, from wearing obnoxious Christmas sweaters to singing Jingle Bells in public at the top of my lungs. But I haven’t always been this way. Years ago, I was just a regular girl who thought Christmas was kinda nice.
What changed me? Living in Vienna! Every December the Austrian capital lights up. There is hot chocolate, glühwein and mistletoe as far as the eye can see. As somebody who had spent four years here – and just moved back – can I really be blamed?
9. Colours of Cologne
You know that feeling when you visit a new city and it just feels right? That was Cologne for me. Sugared almond houses and ancient castles. A glass of cold Kölsch beer that your waiter keeps refilling until you cover it with a mat. Friendly locals who are fiercely proud of their hometown. There is so much love and joy packed into the twisted bundle of narrow streets that is Cologne!
When I lived in Moscow, I had a German friend who would often rave about his hometown. At the time I couldn’t quite understand him – surely Cologne was just another mid-sized European city? But it took me all of one day to finally see what he meant. I will most definitely be back.
8. Blue Mosque in Istanbul
Hearing the call to prayer reverberate through Istanbul’s old town is a moving experience, regardless of what entities you believe or don’t believe in. This is the Blue Mosque, known as Sultan Ahmed Camii in Turkey. It takes the name of the ruler it was built for and who is buried nearby. Can you believe this incredible mosque, complete with hand-painted tiles and six minarets, was built in just eight years (1609-1616)?
7. Rainbow Steps in Istanbul
Not only are these rainbow steps in Istanbul pretty, there’s also a lovely story behind them. Retired forestry engineer Huseyin Cetinel spent four days and $800 transforming this massive staircase into a beautiful rainbow.
When asked why he did it – was it an LGBTQIA statement, a political message? – he said: “I didn’t do it for a group or as a form of activism. I did it to make people smile.” Two things are clear. a) The rainbow steps succeeded in making me smile. b) We need more people like Huseyin!
6. Hot Air Balloons in Cappadocia
When I woke up that morning at 5am, all messy hair and sleepy eyes, something was different. There wasn’t even the slightest hint of a leave-me-alone scowl on my face.
You see, it was a very special morning. I was about to take my first hot air balloon flight and I wasn’t letting anything spoil my mood. Not my puffy eyelids. Not even the fact that it took me half an hour to realise that I had red lipstick on my front teeth.
As the balloon lifted off the ground it was everything I dreamt it would be and more ? Cappadocia is one of the most popular ballooning spots in the world and I think this photo sums up why pretty well..
5. Grand Bazaar in Istanbul
Do you see a bit of a theme emerging in these photos? Lots of them were taken in Turkey. Yes, the same Turkey the media is telling you to avoid. The very same country which has been written off by thousands of travellers as too dangerous.
I get it. Even I felt slightly unsettled as I boarded my flight to Istanbul last November. But if you’re interested in exploring this beautiful country, please do me a favour and read my post about whether it is safe to travel to Turkey.
4. Hundred-spired Prague
My parents recently moved to Prague which equals free accommodations in one of Europe’s most beautiful capitals. Unsurprisingly, I’m pretty pleased and plan to visit the Czech Republic a lot in 2017!
I always hear visitors calling Prague magical and on my last trip I could really see why. While standing on top of Old Town Hall Tower – the one on the left – I spotted the cutest rooftop restaurant and of course I had to investigate. Half an hour later I was sitting down with a large plate of food and this view. If that isn’t magic, I don’t know what is ?
3. Look, It’s Cappadocia Again!
This is the second image from Cappadocia in this roundup, with another still to follow. I considered only including one to make sure I wasn’t boring you. After all, I only included one photo from Eltz Castle – the one you will see at #1 – despite posting a few slightly different versions.
But I decided against it. For one, they’re all quite different. More importantly though I’m still not entirely sure if this place is real or just a really elaborate hoax by The Walt Disney Company! If you see Mickey Mouse or a camouflaged roller coaster in the background, please alert me immediately.
2. Sunrise in Cappadocia
As if waking up at 5am to make my hot air balloon ride wasn’t enough, I’d also gotten up before dawn the day before. A few friends and I took a taxi to Sultan Cave Suites in Göreme, eager to watch the sunrise from its Insta-famous carpeted roof.
Boy did the place deliver! The moment wasn’t as peaceful as this image makes it seem, with a dozen photographers fighting over the best spot and trying not to get in each other’s shot. Did I mention it was below freezing point and my fingers were numb for about an hour after we left? I was definitely the only idiot who turned up in a skirt. Oh, the things I do for the ‘gram.
But it was a precious moment nevertheless and one I am unlikely to ever forget.
1. Princess Diaries at Eltz Castle
Last but certainly not least… here is my image from Eltz Castle which has been featured on dozens of big accounts since I posted it in October. If you’re looking for the ultimate princess getaway in Europe, this medieval castle nestled in the hills above the Moselle River is a great place to start.
I was road tripping around Germany in search of street art with a few friends when I spotted this place on Instagram. To everyone’s dismay I demanded we take a long detour and visit. Luckily the images we took there proved a fairytale ending to our exhausting day as we all watched the wonderful comments roll in.
Much like my previous shot looks can be deceiving. I was definitely not alone with crowds of tourists patiently waiting while I pranced around like a show pony. But that’s the thing with beautiful photos… they’re hard to get but worth fighting for.
I really hope you enjoyed this roundup of my most popular Instagrams of 2016 and the stories behind them. If you’re not following me on Instagram yet, I’d love it if you did. I’m @girlvsglobe and have set the big goal of reaching 100,000 followers in 2017. I “only” have 37,100 new faces left to go… ?
What kind of photos do you enjoy seeing on Instagram? Which of these was your favourite? Do you have a photo from 2016 you’re proud of and would love to share? Please comment below with your thoughts and images – I’d love to see them!