It's 4 PM in Istanbul and we've had a full day already. After breakfast in the hotel we took the tram to the heart of the Old City to see some of the big sights. I typically like to get the big famous things out of the way early so the rest of the trip feels more relaxed and there's less pressure to see or do certain things. We visited the Blue Mosque, the Underground Cistern, and Topkapi Palace. The first two were really stunning... Topkapi Palace was expensive, underwhelming, and practically a zoo full of groups and tourists. We couldn't wait to get out of there. Reminded me of Chichen Itza and the Palace of Versailles, just less interesting.
We walked towards the Spice Market with the intention of going to the Galata Bridge for fresh caught fish sandwiches, but we were too tired and happened upon a couple streets of nice, small restaurants. We picked one based on a thumbs up from an Australian couple and ordered bread (super super thin pita), cucumber/tomato salad and the "mixed grill", which was a good introduction to Turkish meats for Rachel and I. It included meatballs, chunks of lamb and chicken kabobs, rice, and thin sliced meat (lamb or beef?) from the doner (rotating spit). There was also more bread and a big scoop of thick plain yogurt. Everything was amazing... I liked the chunks of lamb best. Rachel said the rice was the best she'd ever had.
We walked through the spice market, full of amazing displays of spices, nuts, teas, dried flowers and Turkish Delight. Rachel had to restrain me from purchasing snacks from every booth. I almost got chased out of the market when I asked a vendor for a very small amount of glazed nuts - like 25 nuts - and when he tried to charge me 10 turkish lira (about $5) I said no thank you and left. He said "Are you kidding me? You must leave the market now. I am telling you!".
I visited one more mosque nearby (The New Mosque) before we jumped back on the tram to come back to the room to rest.
Note: I am totally hooked on Turkish Delight. I want to bring back a suitcase full of it! Here are a few photos of our day from the 350+ I took today. (Still learning how to use my new Fuji x100s - underexposed most of my shots today and had to brighten them in Lightroom.)