Next, we head to Topkapi Palace which is breathtaking. Among other war-won treasures we see Moses' rod and Muhammed's footprint... yeah, Moses' STAFF!!!
It is here that we run into a friend of Phin's from high school and her friend who are travelling around as well. This chance encounter was funny and we enjoyed their company, but little did I know that Kim and Debra would turn out to be two girls that I will undoubtedly stay in touch with for the long haul!
We all go for a walking tour of the city and the two largest covered markets/bazaars in the world. Try some Turkish delight which is quite delightful and head to a Turkish bathhouse for an amazing late afternoon activity.
Getting out of the heat didn't quite work out as the hour and a half in the spa was at 108 degrees... exhausted after a sweet scrub and massage we all head up to the roof of the spa for unparalleled views of the city.
Head home to shower and regroup before dinner at a rooftop restaurant called Mikla... which is amazing. Phin and I share the rare beef tenderloin, salmon tartare, truffled mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach in chili oil... every bite was worth savoring as the goodness seemed to melt away on your tongue! The girls had grouper and swordfish as well as sharing a fig wrapped in prosciutto appetizer. Easily the best restaurant I've been to in a while...
After dinner we share another bottle of wine at the rooftop bar atop the restaurant overlooking the city.
Unfortunately, Phin heads home suffering from a bad headache, likely brought on by a bit of dehydration from the day walking around in the sweltering heat followed by an hour and a half in 108 degree Turkish bath. The girls escort me to Reina, a club on the Bosphorus river... what we were told was the hottest spot in Istanbul was absolutely amazing. Set under a perfectly lit suspension bridge that seemed to change colors in unison with the Turkish techno-dance-hip-pop music pumping into the entirely outdoor venue, the club was packed with people who were way more formally dressed than any of the hottest clubs in NY, LA or LV. Dancing styles were entirely different and it seemed that the steep drink costs of about $25 per drink didn't stop the typically older men from buying the bar for the younger women and the crowd stayed active on the dance floor, or on the tables, until 4:30am!
I dropped the girls off at their hotel via a little harassment from a guy selling flowers full of glitter... and we all agreed that it had been an awesome night on the town!
We start the day by heading to the train station to get what we presume are tickets to Bulgaria, Serbia and Croatia but aren't quite sure given the challenging language barrier.