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Trip Report A First and Fantastic Visit to Istanbul

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We arrived in Istanbul on a Monday in early July at noon and stayed for three nights. Of course, we wanted to maximize our time and do as much as we could since we weren’t sure we would be back to this part of the world again for a while. Our three days in Istanbul were at the end of a three week trip through Italy and Greece. Our kids had gone home at this point, and my husband and I enjoyed exploring a new part of the world on our own.

our hotel -- the W ISTANBUL
We enjoyed a free stay here on starwood points. The service was excellent, and our upgraded room was spacious and comfortable. In terms of location, I would have rather stayed in the Old Town, but of course the price was right at the W. :)

Day 1: A long walk from New Istanbul to Old Istanbul

First, we had a truly excellent kabab lunch at Kosebasi in Nisantasi (not far from our hotel) and then cabbed to Takism Square to start our walk west along Istiklal Street. WOW! The crowds were in full force and mesmerizing -- cosmopolitan, young, and vibrant. We turned off of a few alleys, saw the fish market (missed the flower market), and before we knew it we were taking the Tünel ride down the hill.

We then enjoyed a leisurely walk across Galata Bridge (we change levels via staircase half way across). It was fun seeing the fishermen in their daily routines.

We somehow managed to find Rüstem Paşa Camii. I had read about how special this place was and was not disappointed! The colored tiles inside this tiny mosque were beautiful, and we were the only visitors.

After visiting the mosque, we made our way to the Spice Market (Mısır Çarşısı). This was such a wonderful experience -- the colors, the smells, and the people watching. We bought some spices -- lemon salt and oregano -- which I am sure we paid too much for, but we had a lot of fun with the shop owner.

Afterwards, we took a ferry back to the W in Besiktas. This was a gorgeous way to commute. The Bosphorus was busy and beautiful. Our weather, by the way, was perfect, too -- sunny and 70 degrees F.

After a rest at our hotel, we took a cab to HAMDI back in the old town. Our concierge had reserved a table for us on the terrace. The food was decent, but the view from the terrace is amazing. We were there at dusk, and our views of the Bosphorus and the New Mosque were beyond belief. (Not sure this restaurant is worth it if you’re concierge can’t get you a terrace seat.)

We were thrilled with our first day in Istanbul and were looking forward to day 2, where we would meet our wonderful guide for day filled with sightseeing.

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