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The Golden Horn

The old part of Istanbul

Fish Market

As you walk across the Galata Bridge the colorful fleet of boats you'll spy on the southern (Fatih) side are in fact floating food stalls, all providing their own variety of freshly fried mackerel served with crisp lettuce in a fresh bread roll, promptly satisfying an immediate hunger at a great price point (5₺ per sandwich). People report varying 'tourist-trap' experiences at this location, but the straightforward sandwiches are cheap, delicious and worth a quick pit stop.

Aside: Depending on the time of year, you may walk past clusters of fishermen on the bridge. They're typically catching hamsi which you can try cooked in a variety of ways in Meyhanes throughout the city.

Yeni Camii

Yeni Camii

The big mosque right next to the Spice Market and Galata Bridge.

Turkish Coffee at source

Turkish coffee is ever-available throughout Istanbul, but if you want to go right to the source, visit where the Turk's get their grounds: Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi.

Located just next to the entrance to the Spice Market, you may smell the freshly ground beans before you see the 20 person deep line winding around the corner of the shop window from which packages are dispensed in a variety of sizes and (reasonable - 17₺ per lb) prices. The line is an experience in its own right: the glass front of the store lets you watch the entire production process from grinding & packaging through to sale as you wait. These guys hustle, so have your lira ready to exchange for the goods once you reach the top of the line!

Spice Market

Spice Market

Lots of Turkish Delights here. Every place sells them, and in the spice market, you can try samples, and then get the people to package them up in a box for bringing back as gifts for people. Or buy spices. I'd recommend getting samples. There were samples for most stuff: cheeses, nuts, Turkish delights.

Near the spice market was some small restaurants, places selling baklava. Just south of the spice market was a spot with good kebabs.

Topkapi Palace and Museum

Topkapi Palace

This is where I saw Moses' staff. Some crazy old relics from the ages. This requires several hours, as the grounds are big. Maybe 3 hours? 25 TL. I didn't visit the harem, which was 15 more, as I think the Harem at Dolmabahce was supposed to be better.

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia

Just wow. We went here during the day. 25 TL. Closed on Mondays.

Go to the park between Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque near sunset for photos and good light. Then, walk to Ahırkapı Balıkçısı (website) for really good seafood. We ate there and did the same thing. Sea Bream came as a whole fish, and was good. Also order Börek.

Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern

There are lots of cisterns in Istanbul, but this is the one we went too. It is pretty quick, but cool to see the cisterns and learn about them. 10 TL

Blue Mosque

Sultan Ahmet Camii (Blue Mosque)

Big ass mosque. Domes on domes on domes.

You'll need to wear pants and shirts that not sleeveless. You take your shoes off before you go inside. Some mosques might have sheets to use if you wear shorts (Blue Mosque did).

Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar

Istanbul University

Istanbul Üniversitesi presents a stark contrast to tourist-sights heavy south east corner of Fatih. Located immediately at the north west exit of the Grand Bazaar, exploring the student experience in the city is a fascinating snippet of normal life in Istanbul and well worth a visit.

You'd be forgiven for thinking visitors are not welcome inside the entirely walled grounds of the university - security is high at all entrances - prepare to be scanned and walk through a metal detector to get inside. Once inside, you're free to explore the buildings and grounds without restriction which show a normal, if somewhat out-dated, university life: no laptops, no in-classroom technology, and buildings in disrepair.

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