Paulo Coelho’s St Joseph’s Day Party at Pera Palace Hotel

Prayers to St Joseph

Prayers to St Joseph

Rudolf Schenker and Paulo Coelho

Rudolf Schenker and Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho BaBa ZuLa Brida rap

Paulo Coelho BaBa ZuLa Brida rap

Who would have thought, a couple of years ago I did not even know who Paulo Coelho was, and there I was like Santiago in The Alchemist setting off on a great adventure.

19 March is Saint Joseph Day. On that day Paulo Coelho celebrates his Saint’s Day with a select group of friends.

One day I was sat by the river in Guildford. There was an attractive Lithuanian girl totally engrossed in a book. What had her so engrossed I wondered? Well there was only one way to find out, I asked her.

I learnt she was reading The Zahir by the Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho. A few years later, having in the between times read all of his books, I found myself at the recently renovated Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul as a guest of Paulo Coelho at his St Joseph Day party.

Paulo Coelho was born dead, strangled by his umbilical cord. His mother made a promise to Saint Joseph, the name of the hospital where Paulo Coelho was born.

Today, Paulo Coelho keeps that promise. He celebrates St Joseph’s Day and gives thanks by invitıng his friends to a party. Last year ıt was at Melk Abbey ın Austria, this year it was at the Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul.

Earlier in the day Paulo Coelho gave a press conference at the Pera Palace Hotel.

The party started with cocktails. Then when everyone was seated for dinner, Paulo Coelho after having explained why he held a party for his friends every year on St Joseph’s Day, ınvıted everyone to hold hands and join him in prayer. He said a prayer ın Portuguese then others said a prayer in several other languages – English, Spanish, French, Greek, German, Japanese – it was quite a moving experience.

The food was excellent, as was the music provided by Turkish rock group BaBa ZuLa, who also had dancers. Sufi meets rock!

Turkish meze platter
‘Su böreği’
wıth spınach
Walnut crusted milk marinated lamb loin,
on smoked eggplant puree with root
vegetables and thyme sauce
Ottoman dessert plate,
with clotted cream
Tea or coffee

The highlight of the evening was BaBa ZuLa beıng joined on stage by Paulo Coelho and Rudolf Schenker the legendary lead singer and guitarist from the German rock group the Scorpions performing the classic Still loving you.

The evening ended with Paulo Coelho patiently signing books until the early hours of the morning. During the book signing Ken Crane told a story of a stone.

If nothing else, Paulo knows how to throw a good party. And he can write.

A very special thanks to Paulo for the invite to his party. The highlight of my trip to Istanbul.

It is not every day that you get to meet Paulo Coelho, Rudolf Schenker the lead singer of Scorpions, and the Abbot of Melk Abbey, all in one day!

The only annoyance for me was that on my way up I left in the taxi some of the books I had brought to be signed by Paulo for friends.

On my taxi ride down from the hotel I got a stunning view of the Mosques lit up.

Pera Palace Hotel has been recently renovated. It was built for passengers on the Orient Express. Many famous guests including Ernest Hemmingway, Greta Garbo, Agatha Christie, who wrote Murder on the Orient Express whilst staying at the Pera Palace Hotel. In the entrance foyer is an old sedan chair. Chairs such as this were used to carry guests from the station, across the river and up the hill to the Pera Palace Hotel. The electric lift inside the hotel was the second only installed in Europe. The first was the Eiffel Tower. Pera Palace is listed in 1000 Places to See Before You Die, with a copy opened at the relevant pages in a display cabinet in the hotel foyer.

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22 Responses to “Paulo Coelho’s St Joseph’s Day Party at Pera Palace Hotel”

  1. marie-christine Says:

    Looks like no one has written yet.
    Can I do the honour please? 🙂
    Just reading your article Keith, I was also listening to the music and I think I am almost convinced to reconsider my options for enrolling into that oriental dancing lessons.
    I was practising a bit of it as well…from the chair. I used my imagination even though I could not see the elaborate costumes.
    Well, I really enjoyed the music it was so pleasant and I did read about the Band who originally started as a trio , they made an album again in 2007 called Roots. The music is quite tantalising I thought and could almost put you into a Tavis Havasi – Peacock Mood. I was wondering whether the sound was the original version (meaning coming from the Peacock) I had a Sipa at the first title enough for me to do a Tabutta Ravasata – a summersault in the coffin – 🙂
    What was so interesting was how they are keeping the history of the past and are passing it onto the next generation through their music.
    The use of spoons and percussions machines,toys , saz, oscillators, etc is also an interesting combination, one I have never been introduced to.
    The group Baba ZuLa has performed all around the world.They have made music for films and plays such as “The Little Prince” A. de St Exupery, Frogtales by Arnold Lobel, Kitchen accidents (it does happen) by Perihan Magden.
    They have also received numerous Awards for their composition.
    So, I hope you will all tune-in and enjoy this smashing group from Turkey.

  2. marie-christine Says:

    Scorpions –
    A Heavy Metal Hard Rock band founded by Rudolf Schenker in 1965 in Hanover, Germany.

    Their first album came out in 1972.

    To this day, more than 100 millions albums throughout the world. They were a huge success in Japan and did a live in 1978 :Tokyo Tapes as well as in Europe.

    In 1982, there is an interesting statistic with their album “Still Loving You” as being responsible for the biggest baby-boom since the Second World War.

    They were considered by both critics and fans as the best Hard Rock Group when the “Black Out” Album hit the chart.
    (Source Wikepidia)

    Scorpions will be making their Farewell Tour in France and are coming your way on the 16th November in Toulon/Zenith
    and on the 20th of November in Montpellier/Arena.

    Book your tickets early if you want to get in.

    • keithpp Says:

      Please do not cite or quote Wikipedia, it is a flawed source!

      • marie-christine Says:

        Thanks Keith looking forward to the recipe.:)
        As for Wiki – with what I have seen of the other history, there are a lot of flaws as well – so it is, for me ,as good a source as any other one that I use.
        Please note that the Farewell Tour of France is my own source.
        Have fun and keep on smiling:)

  3. marie-christine Says:

    I forgot to ask,…what was on the menu? Yammy?:)

  4. marie-christine Says:

    ooh menu sounds beautiful.

    Turkish Meze platter
    Turkish appetizer
    Hors d’oeuvre a la Turque


    Something to strengthen you

    Su borogi
    with spinach
    Watercress Consomme
    with spinach
    Consomme de cresson de fontaine
    aux epinards


    Walnut crusted milk marinated lamb loin
    on smoked eggplant puree with root
    vegetables and thyme
    from the garden


    Ottoman dessert plate
    with fluffy little clouds cream
    Something to satisfy your palate

    Cay veya Kahve
    Tea or coffee
    The ou cafe



    We share the same words
    Thank you
    Tesekkur ederim

    PS- You might want to check with Sufi for the Turkish translation
    Su means water so I made boregi into a watercress consomme .:)

    • keithpp Says:

      Yes, it was delicious. The spinach pastry was what I had for breakfast on the Turkish Airlines coming here. But it is not necessary to go to Pera Palace Hotel for good food. There is good food everywhere. I shall miss Istanbul, even the jerks who harass you on the street.

    • keithpp Says:

      No, Su böreği is not watercress consomme. You cannot translate the name of a dish. You can only describe what it is or what it is like or similar to. And only then when you have seen and tasted the dish. It is not watercress consomme. Su böreği is nether watercress nor consomme. It is a kind of puff pastry with spinach. I will try to obtain the recipe.

  5. Paulo Coelho Says:

    Thank you for your presence, thank you for your blog so I can share St Joseph’s Party with my friends

    • keithpp Says:

      A pleasure Paulo. The least I can do as thanks for such a lovely evening. It was a pleasure to meet at long last. Thank you for signing books for my friends and thanks for your kind words on my blog when we talked.

  6. Adriana Campos Says:

    Thank you for your lovely account of the party.
    I had thought you have already met Paulo before. For how long have you been acquainted with his books? I remember having read a comment of yours in Paulo’s blog that dated april 2008.
    Well, I just wanted to say thank you because thank your blog I could revive the lovely feelings of last year party and picture Elaine setting off on adventure again.

    • keithpp Says:

      Thanks Adriana for your kind comments! Paulo and I have corresponded but never until last night actually met. I was invited to his last party at Melk but sadly due to being taken very ill, unable to make it. I have been acquainted with his books since sometime summer 2007.

  7. Ken Crane Says:

    Thank you Keith for this share.

    This was my first meeting with Paulo too.

    Very nice to know you.


  8. Breda Moore Says:

    hi Keith,
    I am glad you recorded the evenings entertainment for us all to see and enjoy again.Thank you.
    I have a new camera and the memory card was full sooner than I had anticipated..and I was disappointed I had missed out on recording the amazing dancers .
    Is it possible to post the dance scenes separately.. or is there an issue with copyright ?
    I have some friends on FB who would enjoy it immensely..a close friend loves salsa dancing and drumming .

  9. Dr Pooja Says:

    Hii Keith
    i have gone through your blog earlier also through Paulo’s blog
    Istanbul party must have been great for all you people
    i too cherish a dream of meeting Paulo in person &ofcourse meeting all you friends
    looking forward to the day
    great pics ,Thanx for sharing
    Dr Pooja

    • keithpp Says:

      Yes, it was an amazing party. I enjoyed meeting Paulo, it was like meeting an old friend who I had known for ever. And meeting others too, Jane and Elaine, Ken and Priya and Carolena and others too. And I loved the time I spent in Istanbul and I am wanting to go back. And I would love to meet you too. I am enjoying reading your bog, very thoughtful. Keith x

  10. Ally Says:

    Hi Keith! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and pictures. It was an amazing night and finally, after 10 years I met Paulo in Istanbul. The part that I didn’t like so much was time flying by so quickly. Maybe we can keep in touch. Alina from Romania 🙂

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