I've put off doing a #tbt for Istanbul because, frankly, it's overwhelming. My friends and I had an amazing time there, but we did so much in such a short amount of time that it's tough to cover all of it in one post, which is why I'm breaking it down into days.
After our trip to Dubai, we flew into in Istanbul and met up with friends of friends who would be our local guides during our stay (they were awesome!). We took an easy metro ride into the city center, which took us past the aqueducts and dropped us off steps from our hotel.
Ferry Ride on the Bosphorus
Since our plane from Dubai didn't arrive until 6 p.m., we were pretty limited on first day activities. We figured that a sunset ride on the Bosphorus would be a good way to get to know the city. We got to see both sides (Europe and Asia) and took in views of the famous mosques and landmarks that dot the shoreline. Unfortunately, winter on a boat is freezing, so we spent half the time inside warming up with tea. After the cruise we happened upon local fisherman hawking their recent catches, including mussels. I wasn't brave enough to try street mollusks, but my friends were (and lived to tell the tale!)!
After our ferry ride we headed over to the famous Galata Tower. The medieval tower normally offers expansive panoramic views of the city. Unfortunately for us it was pretty foggy that night, so our views were somewhat limited. Still, the climb through historic streets and views that we could see made it well worth the price of admission.
After the cruise and the tower, we were pretty hungry, so we wandered around bustling Istiklal Street in search of sustenance. Still a vegetarian at the time, I avoided the street meat at all costs, but my friends indulged in some "delicious intestine delicacies." We eventually found a restaurant that offered up a few veggie options (though seemingly everything I ate came with a heaping portion of melted cheese -- Istanbul knows what's up). Something weird that I noticed was that in almost every restaurant we went to the waiters were smoking while serving us. It was... not my favorite. After dinner, we wandered around the tiny side streets and found an outdoor cafe serving delicious mulled wine. A perfect end to Day 1.
We packed in as much as we could on Day 1 because we knew we had a lot more to see in the next few days. Stay tuned for how we spent Day 2!