Known for doner kebabs and fez hats amongst other things, Turkey is also a nation of practical people. When I sat down in an Istanbul restaurant and ordered meat and rice, the manager came back with a different proposition "I'm sorry, the meat is finished. Instead of rice and meat, here I give you rice and yoghurt. Don't worry I won't charge extra, for you same price". Very practical guy indeed.
Istanbul is one of the world's great cities. It's highly developed, and the historical buildings range from grand to charming. Most visitors stay in the Sultanahmet area. The most iconic sight there is the huge Blue Mosque, which tells the story of Suleiman "the Magnificent", the Ottomans's greatest ever military leader, who gave up everything for a slavegirl named Roxalena.
Suleiman had conquered most of Eastern Europe, and Roxalena was a captured Ukrainian girl who was taken to the slave market in Istanbul, where she was purchased for Suleiman's harem. It wasn't long before he fell in love with her. She then managed to convince the sultan to marry her, which caused a stir throughout the Islamic world for marrying a slave. It resulted in their son Selim, a very incompetent man, inheriting the sultanate. It happened because all the other candidates had been murdered thanks to Roxelana's influence over Suleiman.
Sitting comfortably with history is a very modern side to Istanbul. With 20 universities, the city buzzes with a youthful energy best seen in the Taksim district.
Topkapi Palace, where sultans lived in their opulent and decadent prime. Here they kept a harem of 300 slave girls
Rumeli Hisar castle, next to some villas that were accidentally demolished when ships ploughed into them on a foggy night