We arrived in istanbul on the day of suicide bomber in the Takshim area so I was feeling slightly uneasy and nervous. It was a quiet night and once we arrived at hotel we were told by staff not to venture out of the main area surrounding hotel. Our hotel was beside the famous Aya Sofia and Blue Mosque and the evening prayer on loud speaker welcomed us to Turkey that night.
Istanbul, the hub of activity and life. A gateway to Europe and Asia with a history of Lycian, Roman, Ottoman, Greek, Persian culture. A mecca for history buffs. The sights and sounds, the mix of old and new, the sense of unease slowly dissipated as we began to explore the city. A walkable city as most sights are in the same area so we join the crowds (although not as many as we had expected) nevertheless it seems busy.
I managed to convince Oliver he must do his fist hammam (turkish bath) with me. What turns out to be a very expensive activity but I managed to find a decent one with good reviews. You pay first so no turning back as we head into a marble room to relax and wash, open our pores in the steam room, get scrubbed down and hair washed. The city has excellent coffee shops, some outdoor stores, independent boutiques with an emerging young culture amid the old. A great introduction to the rest of out trip in turkey.
On our last day we were stopped by a group of university students doing a project wanting to know how we felt about being in Turkey and why we decided to come. An interesting end to our visit in the city and a stark contrast to what we hear and read in the news.