Get three cities for the price of one! Byzantium....Constantinople.....Istanbul....all glorious and all evident in one fabulous place. As a historian I couldn't help but get caught up in the splendor of the traditional sites. But this particular trip was focused on exploring the less-traveled paths. I only had five days which means they were destined to be intense. I signed up for a couple of creative walking tours (a first for me) so in addition to my independent wanderings I covered a LOT of territory in areas of the city I wouldn't have even thought of on my own.
Eating dominated my experience. Istanbul is apparently full of voyeurs who have food fetishes. A restaurant is not a restaurant unless it has a window displaying its specialties, and often the chef creating right there in the storefront. Confectionary shops are everywhere, and street carts as well. If the mounds of pastries don't grab your attention then there would be no escaping the delicious wasps of roasting chestnuts or steam clouds of cinnamon-y sahleb.
Istanbul in the winter was a unique choice. Most travelers select warmer times to visit this water-bound city. It definitely required thicker skin but the cold air, often thick with fog, provided a depth I had not expected. I'll be writing about each of my walking tours in a few days, as well as one of my all-time-favorite restaurant experiences! In the meantime, here's a food sampling....some appetizers before the main meal. Try not to drool.