The morning began early with a piping hot cup of Turkish coffee. Its robust flavor and its undeniable jolt of caffeine was just what I needed to start the morning off right.
We made our way to Topkapi Palace, the former home of the sultans of the Ottoman Empire. Its grandeur and pure scale was breathtaking; one could get lost for days exploring the myriad corridors of the palace. Blue and green hand-made floral tiles adorned almost every surface. Countless gold-gilded gates marked the entrance to each wing. Massive exotic stone columns in hues of red, cream, and blue stood stoic against the test of time, each carved piece supporting the enormous domed ceilings.
The showstopper for me was the Harem. Soft hues of turquoise, cobalt blue, sage green, and cream enveloped each room. It was a calming place. I could imagine the women lounging on the overstuffed sofas and walking the secluded halls.
After spending over half of the day exploring the palace we headed over to Galata Tower. The cone-capped cylinder sits on top of a steep hill and dwarfs the sprawling city below. The top boasts an impressive 360-degree view over the entire metropolis. The late afternoon light spilled across the city as we reached the top and bathed the peninsula in a warm glow. As we looked out across the landscape, Istanbul seemed to go on forever. We enjoyed watching the day slip into night as dusk fell on the city below.
No trip to Istanbul is complete without a visit to a local Hookah bar. Whether you smoke or not, they are great places to grab a drink, people watch, and catch a football match. Time flies when you are having fun. We met up with some friends and next thing we knew we were headed home at 4am!