I traveled previously to Istanbul in 1986 and 1988, so it was a welcome visit to one of my favorite places in Europe or Asia. The Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque) is a magnet and draws you to it, a very spiritual place because it is still a practicing mosque. There is excitement even when they have to send you away when prayers begin. There are options, i.e. the Hippodrome, the Cistern, Topkapi, the Haghia Sofia - just wandering around the neighborhood and even to the waterfront. The district has retained its flavor over time - rug sellers still offer apple tea, prices have not escalated as much as other cities, people are friendly and even the dogs and cats are well mannered. I am a female and felt very safe the entire time I was there.
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