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Merhaba from Istanbul! We are severely jet-lagged and were mostly awake at 4am today. Our flight was uneventful, and landed about 4:30pm local time. After surviving a super long customs line at the airport we made it to our Airbnb–no thanks to our taxi driver, who cited road construction as a reason not to take us into the neighborhood we were staying in. This meant we ended up having to hike half a mile uphill on cobblestone roads with our bags in the summer heat. Things got better after we drank water and rested for a while.

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We found a döner restaurant on Istikal street for dinner near Taxim square, a very busy area with shops and restaurants. I had iskender, a plate of sliced döner meat served over bread with tomato sauce and butter. Yum.

After dinner Onur and Berkay procured a SIM card for our mobile hotspot (meaning internet at all times!) and we headed back to the flat. Unfortunately, the one amenity that our Airbnb doesn’t have is air conditioning. It’s 93 degrees F and massively humid, so we are regretting that oversight in our lodging selection.

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Today for breakfast we found a small restaurant that served a good Turkish kahvaltı (breakfast). I ordered potato gözleme which is one of my favorite breakfast pastries. After drinking about ten cups of çay (tea) we walked down the street to another cafe for Turkish kahve (coffee) and a nice view of the Bosphorus.

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The street cats and dogs in Istanbul are very friendly, and can be found in the most unusual locations. Amid our wandering we found some very cute ones gracing shop windows and stoops.

We got out to see some of the tourist destinations today, including Ayasofya (Hagia Sofia) and Sultanahmet Camii (Blue Mosque).

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Ayasofya

Ayasofya is always my favorite spot to visit in Istanbul. There is no way to describe the sheer size and beautiful art inside.

Unfortunately for us, Sultanahmet was undergoing restoration work, which we did not realize until we were inside. Too bad, because the vaulted ceilings are incredible to see.

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When visiting a mosque women are required to be covered modestly. Men are not required to meet the same modesty requirements and can rock both shorts and even tank tops (we saw one!) in the mosque.

After surviving the tourist spots in the sweltering heat, we stopped for a late lunch at Sultanahmet Köftecisi which we inhaled because we were starving. No photos, but it was delicious.

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The boys were all tired, so they went back to take naps. Jacqui and I would not be deterred by jet lag. Instead, we window shopped, walked Istikal street, found our first goat ice cream of the trip, and then located ourselves at a small cafe to have an adult beverage.

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I did finally give in to jet lag and took a short nap, then we all walked across the Galata bridge to have dinner at Hamdi Restaurant. This is a restaurant we found on our previous trip in 2016 and it was so good we had to go back. It did not disappoint!

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After we finished dinner around 11pm, we found a nearby cafe to drink tea and smoke nargile (hookah). It was a nice way to end a summer night, and a Turkish way to fully embrace the day that felt like about three days long. Thanks jet lag.

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We finally took the funniest Uber back to Taksim square and walked back to our Airbnb. Oh, we stopped for another cone of ice cream at midnight because we are living our best life over here.

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