You won't find any skyscrapers here. For a city of 12+ million, it's sprawling and old, but doesn't feel it. The short buildings cosy you in like an old friend, welcoming a wander down any winding lane. And if you're lost, fear not, Turks will lead you home by direction and often by walking you partway to your destination.
We arrived on a Friday night, late into the airport. For $20, received our Turkish Visa on arrival and proceeded without incidence into the country, where we were picked up by our hostel ride. Arriving late at night into a city is welcoming- you wake up in her arms and see her for the first time. Feeling the warmth of the city from the sundeck where breakfast was served, I was surprised at how modern it looked. I am always surprised how cities all look the same, and yet different.
Tooling down streets and through lanes, we stopped for countless coffees, crossing bridges, climbing towers and resting in mosques. Mostly all without maps, just following our senses and lolling when necessary. The perfect way to experience this city. I watched the people. With twinkles and warmth in their eyes, they welcomed us into their land. Jovial almost in their encounters, it's hard to imagine saying something bad about these folks.
After three days in her warmth, we didn't take in all the sights, but I think we got the essence down.
Istanbul, a place of quiet and gentle beauty, old and new, surprisingly peaceful and wonderful food. It's a place to visit again, and again.