We returned to our hotel with a little bit of time to rest before our tour started.
The next morning, I couldn't sleep in ... so I decided to get out and enjoy sunrise. I took one last solo walk. It was a nice time to enjoy the peaceful morning and reflect upon the past two weeks.
We were delighted to see Haluk again on our last evening in Turkey. He took us out to dinner at an elegant fish restaurant close to our hotel. We took pleasure in sharing with him how wonderful our tour was and how much we loved his country.

When the tour ended in Kusadasi, we flew back to Istanbul and stayed again in Hotel Obelisk for one night. We had about 24 hours in Istanbul before flying home the next day.

We decided to return to the Spice Market that afternoon to find some last minute goodies to bring home. I continued to use it as an opportunity to learn the Turkish language from the locals. Some guys I met decided I ought to learn some Turkish "slang." I wasn't quite confident I should repeat anything they were teaching me!

We had a lovely evening with Haluk

Sunrise over Hagia Sophia

Sunrise over the Bosphorus

This guy taught me how to say, "Chill out, baby," in Turkish

At breakfast we got to say a final "goodbye" to Bonnie, Becky, Donna, Jan, and Sidar. The ladies had also spent their last night in Turkey at Hotel Obelisk ... and Sidar was starting a new tour with a new group of people.

Later that morning, we boarded our flight home ... very sad to be leaving.

Goodbye, Turkey!

A last "goodbye" to Sidar and few other "cousins"
Before the tour started:
Next, he drove us through a non-touristy part of the city where locals would shop. I liked seeing "real life" in action.

View of Istanbul from Galata Tower

Galata Tower



After the tour:


The Best of Turkey - A Rick Steves' Tour


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Before the tour started ... After the tour

... and beauty

... magnificent in size ...

He first took us to Suleymaniye Camii (the Mosque of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent). The mosque is breathtaking - massive and gorgeous.

This was our first time ever entering a mosque ... so we learned to remove our shoes and cover our heads.

The Mosque of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent ...
My mom and I arrived a little early. We had a full day in Istanbul before the tour started. We spent the day with a charming man, Haluk, a friend of my mom's cousin.

My mom and I arrived in Turkey a day before the tour started. We spent a day exploring Istanbul with Haluk, a charming Turkish man who is a friend of my mom's cousin. I was so flattered by his willingness to spend the day showing us his city ... when he had just met us. He was our first indication of the warmth and hospitality of Turks.

Next we drove across Galata bridge to the north part of Istanbul, Beyoglu, and went to Galata Tower for its views of the city.

After enjoying the views, Haluk took us to lunch at an unassuming little fish restaurant. I don't usually eat much fish, so I was a little tentative in trying it ... but I loved it! We ended our day together back at his office that overlooks the Bosphorus and we had our first taste of Turkish Coffee. I discovered that I like it "cok sekerli" (chok shekerlee) ... with a lot of sugar!