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Our last city of the trip was Istanbul. We took the overnight train from Bucharest (frankly an awful experience I will never repeat!) and got into the city in the early morning. Our first hotel was great and actually had our room ready, so we showered and rested before heading out to sightsee!

Our first stop on Day 10 was the Sultanahmet area, where the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia are the most prominent buildings on the skyline. These two buildings are HUGE and beautiful! We visited the Blue Mosque first, then the Hagia Sofia before a lunch of meatballs, then went on to the Archaeological Museum in the Topkapi Castle grounds. At that point we were pretty tired, so we went back to the hotel for a nap, which turned out to be longer than we had planned! So we just had dinner and drinks at the hotel before relaxing and going back to bed.

Day 11 started off at the amazing Basilica Cistern, then to Topkapi Palace, where we saw the harem and walked around the beautiful and extensive grounds. I wish we’d have spent more time there exploring, but I wanted to see the Mosaic Museum since we’d missed it the day before. Unfortunately, it was closed, so we just saw a little of the Arasta Bazaar, then walked back through Sultanahmet before getting to our hotel in time to check out. We took a taxi to our last hotel, the Park Hyatt, checked in, then walked to the Taksim street in the afternoon and evening. We saw the Galata tower and some great sunset views of the city, before walking back after some shopping. It was a long day!

Our final full day was spent exploring the Galata Bridge, spice bazaar, and grand bazaar, where we bought a few (probably overpriced but oh well) souvenirs, and enjoyed the atmosphere! We tried one more time to get to the Mosaic Museum, but it closed early, so again we couldn’t… but we did spend more time at the Arasta Bazaar at a great store that sold bath goods. We were pretty tired from walking around all day, so we went back to the hotel and just ate in the area, and did some shopping at the City’s Mall nearby.

And our last day we spent just walking around and relaxing in the morning, before checking out at 2 and heading to the airport. We flew back to Japan again in business class, this time Turkish Airlines, which was pretty fantastic! And then went home exhausted to sleep for a long, long time!

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Our first hotel, the Doubletree near Sultanahmet

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Cats and tulips!

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Got a quick kebab snack and attracted the attention of an interested kitty

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Then hit the square between the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sofia

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Inside the Blue Mosque which was pretty overwhelming it was so big

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The back outside

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To the also very huge Hagia Sofia

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To Tokyo!

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Then some meatballs for lunch

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And then baklava and Turkish tea for dessert at the cafe in the Archaeological Museum!

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On our way to the museum

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Some of it is under construction, but I really liked the bottom floor of the museum, and the tile museum across the way… the upstairs though, they really need to redo.

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Archaeology Museum

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And the Iznik Tile Museum

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Dinner at the hotel

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And breakfast the next morning… seriously the honeycomb was SO GOOD! Especially with simit. I wanted to eat it every morning!

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Day 2 at the Basilica Cistern

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Loved the Medusa heads!

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And back to Topkapi Palace

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Strait to the Harem with all its amazing colored tiles

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It was really beautiful inside and out!

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But the rest of the palace was nothing to sneeze over either!

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Us at the palace

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Arasta Bazaar for our failed try at the Mosaic Museum and some spices there

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Our Park Hyatt room and private Turkish bath area!

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Walking to Taksim, we came upon a park of cats, all of which loved Kenji

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Taksim square and street

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And Galata Tower and views at sunset!

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Dinner at a sushi restaurant… the “Istanbul Roll” was good!

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We finally had the wine we bought in Budapest

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Breakfast the next morning… more honeycomb!

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Parks, flowers, and flags on our way to Galata

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He tried to overcharge us, but we held firm!

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Getting some pomegranate juice at Galata Bridge

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Galata Bridge and New Mosque

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At the spice bazaar

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Quick lunch before the Grand Bazaar

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Grand Bazaar and lanterns

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Back around the Hippodrome, trying for the Mosaic Museum one more time… didn’t work out, but I couldn’t resist the cats, and Kenji couldn’t resist more ice cream!

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And we even had Mexican food that night!

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Turkish Airlines lounge at the airport… so much good food to choose from!

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And the fantastic Turkish airlines business class!

Istanbul was so much fun… we missed a lot, but just like other places on this trip, it gives us a good reason to go back for more!

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