On my way to Greece for a business trip I had a layover in Istanbul, Turkey. Rather than just spending two hours in the airport, I spent two nights in the city and explored one of the places on my bucket list.

I’m not sure when I decided I wanted to visit Istanbul but it was quite a while ago. I think my trip to Lebanon in 2015 reignited, or maybe solidified, my desire to travel there. I knew I couldn’t pass up this opportunity.

The city is beautiful and the food is amazing! I stayed in an Air BnB not far from Taksim Square and managed to get by without speaking any Turkish (thank you Google Translate).

The first day I walked over 13 miles as I visited the Galata Tower, the Egyptian spice bazaar, and the Grand bazaar, Basilica Cistern, Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque, Topakpi Palace, the Istanbul Archaeology Museum. While they were all stunning, I think my favorite may have been the Cistern. It was beautiful down there and I assume that the mosques and palaces would be beautiful but you don’t expect an underground water storage facility to have just intricate and ornate beauty. Another thing I cannot begin to describe is the overwhelming intensity of the spice markets. The myriad of smells all mixing together is quite the experience!

The next day I walked another 6.5 miles, this time carrying my duffle bag and backpack as I was heading for the airport. I took the ferry across the Bosporus to Üsküdar on the Asian side for lunch. I also found a Geocache, giving me three finds on two different continents in the same day!

The food was amazing but to be honest, I’m not sure what I was even ordering at the time. Picture menus were very helpful since I was by myself. But there wasn’t a single thing that I didn’t like!It was a quick trip but I’d love to go back and explore some more.