We got back from our trip to Istanbul last night (Thursday, 26 May 2005) after an unexpected stay in Frankfurt Germany. We appear to have planned our vacation to conincide with two important soccer games also being held in istanbul, one derby match between Galatasaray and Fenerbache the day after we arrived (19 May), and the other championship match between Liverpool and Milan the day we left (25 May).
Both matches meant that we would have been royally screwed for accomodations if our hotel reservations had gone awry and caused some extra crowding on the streets of the old city. The second match, however, meant that an extra 200 planes were flying into Istanbul on the same day we were trying to fly out, which delayed our flight by almost an hour. As a consequence, we missed our connecting flight in Frankfurth.
Lufthansa was nice enough to put us up for the night and book us on the first flight out to Washington D.C. the next day, but we both had to take an extra day of vacation (which is a dear price for an American to pay, since we don't get very much vacation to begin with). Even with the extra day, however, I didn't manage to satisfy my craving for good German sausage. I guess we'll just have to take a trip to Germany (oh, the sacrifice).
We had a great time in Istanbul: we saw the museum of achaeology, Ciragan Palace, Topkapi Palace, Dolmabache Palace, San Sophia, The Blue Mosque, Dolmabache Mosque, the Yerebatan Cistern, the book Bazaar, the Egyptian Bazaar and the Grand Bazaar. We also wandered around Beskitas and Taksim quite a bit and took a ferry over to the Asian side of the city for one evening out.
My friend, Ozan, showed us around the city the entire week and had us over for dinner at his apartment one evening. His apartment is very small, but it has a great view of the Bosphorus. It was only a few blocks from our hotel, but most of the distance was straight up (Istanbul has a geography similar to San Francisco or Ithica New York).