Istanbul, But Why Not Constantinople?

This is our last morning in Istanbul and it’s been an amazing and enlightening trip. I had no idea that Turkish history was so, so interesting. Istanbul is modern yet ancient, and completely surprising.

We spent the first two days being led around by our tour guide Levon from Melitours. And we’ve had a driver, which was the best, best decision ever. Istanbul can be a hard city to navigate and the traffic is the worst.

Levon, our Turkish tour guide

We went shopping at the Spice Market, and bought some Iranian safron, which Levon insists is better than Turkish.

Turkish spices

We went to the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia.

Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey

We went rug shopping at a private gallery, which was a very unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience involving a whole education in rug making and lots of tea. Yes, we bought one, and no, I don’t want to discuss the price.

Rug shopping in Istanbul

We spent a morning on the Asian side and then back to the European side for an afternoon at Topakpi Palace, the home of Turkish Sultans up till the mid-1800s and which contains the “three-spoon diamond,” the second largest diamond in the world.

Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

Unlike the rug, we did not buy the diamond. The guards just wouldn’t haggle.

And we ate. And ate. And ate some more. I am now thoroughly in love with Turkish food.

Wonderful Turkish food

So we’re heading home with lots of memories and a few souvenirs (and tighter pants). I’ll get into more detail in the days ahead.

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