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Istanbul for a day

I’ll start by saying, you shouldn’t only spend a day in Istanbul. A city of its size and history deserves so much more. However, you also shouldn’t spend a day at the Istanbul airport, no matter how big it is. That’s the situation I found myself in this spring. I had booked a flight connecting in Istanbul with a short layover, but the airlines canceled the earlier connecting flight and rebooked me on the evening flight, 12+ hours later. Faced with a day, jetlagged, in an airport or going to see the town, I chose the latter.

I hired a guide who specializes in layover tours to meet me at the airport, show me a few sites, and take me back in time for my flight. The weather was about perfect. The tulips were in full bloom. And the coffee was, luckily, strong.

Just one picturesque part of Istanbul.
Hagia Sophia. A crazy amount of history is wrapped in this building. Not surprising when you consider it predates the “discovery” of America.
Amsterdam may be known tulips, but they got them from Istanbul. I completely lucked out with the timing as the city was awash with tulips in full bloom. The word for tulip when written in Arabic, looks like the word Allah, and therefore is thought to be divine flowers.
An alley behind Hagia Sophia.
Inside Rüstem Pasha Mosque, a less visited, smaller mosque. The tile work here, and in every mosque visited, was just exquisite. The scale and quality of craftsmanship are hard to show in any one photo.
Sirkeci Train Station. Built as the eastern terminus for the Orient Express. Even with no tracks today (there is a train/subway underground, nearby), it’s not hard to picture what it would be like to see the Orient Express pulling into the station.
Locals fishing off the Galata Bridge.

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