Since I was here with my family for the first time 50 years ago riding around in 1956 Chevy taxis, one I remember that used a built in 45 disc record player for a sound system, Istanbul has become an international hub more like New York City.
Distinctive neighborhoods each with their own unique character and appeal worth exploring remain, each full of music venues with late night diners and neon lights, but with relics of ancient civilizations, mosques and minarets beautifully lit up against the night skyline, and the echoes of call to prayer that remind us this city once was Byzantium, then Constantinople and now Istanbul, has remained at the center of civilization. Indeed, Istanbul's cosmopolitan landscape is the business epicenter and playground of the greatest concentration of the world's billionaires after New York, London and Moscow.
Those of us who arrived a day early had the definite advantage of an extra 24 hours to adjust to the new time zone which really helped us absorb our first full day just strolling through the Sultanahmet historic district to see the main sites of the Blue Mosque, Aya Sofia, Topkapi Palace, and the Hippodrome. We concluded our first night together at the famous Hamdi restaurant overlooking the lights of the Golden Horn, Galata Tower, and looking up the Bosphorus at the bridge connecting Europe and Asia Minor lit up with a glow. On our first extra day Alper took us to his favorite café where they prepare the best Turkish coffee with a hint of cardamom, then led us walking through the Istanbul University campus, back streets of Sultanahmet, and the chance to walk through the beautiful Sulimanye Mosque.
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