Wow, Istanbul is an incredible city! Neither of us had been to Turkey before, and we really didn’t know what to expect. I think what surprised us the most was how “western” it felt. We had been in Asia 1.5 years and it just felt amazing. Our flight arrived on time, and we easily made our way to a bus that would take us into the city. Unfortunately, we ended up getting ripped off by our taxi driver who claimed we had given him a “five” bill instead of a “fifty.” He did this by showing us the “five” bill we had paid him and insisted that we were wrong. We fought with him for awhile before giving up (it was in the middle of the night, and we were exhausted). Sadly, we were too tired to realize that we never had a “five” bill in the first place (we had withdrawn only 50’s from the ATM just minutes before) and by the time we realized we had been cheated, he was already zooming down the road. This was the first time we had been ripped off on our trip, and it made our blood boil. Especially since we had felt like we were back in a “trusting” western country. We learned the hard way to never put our guards down. After a good night’s rest we awoke refreshed and excited about exploring a new country. We immediately fell in love with Istanbul. Winding stone streets lined with cafes and boutique shops really set the mood for a relaxing honeymoon-like getaway. As we headed west in our travels (leaving Asia behind), prices of everything steadily climbed higher. Lodging in Istanbul was expensive, and we just weren’t ready to pay the price tag attached with private room lodging, so we opted for dorm lodging… 30 bunk dorm lodging. And to our surprise, it was very pleasant. We’ve had so many great experiences at hostels during our travels, and our stay at the Orient Hostel in Istanbul did not let us down.Breakfast was included and it was basic, but nice. The espresso machine was a great. It felt so nice to have hot coffee and french toast while gazing out over the city. We had met some people the night before while we were trying to find our hostel. They joined us for breakfast, and then we joined them for sightseeing later on that day. We went to see the Blue Mosque, which was just a few blocks down from our hostel. It was a sight to behold. I’ve seen the Blue Mosque is so many pictures, it was really neat to be there in person. After our trip to the mosque, we wandered around and did some more sight-seeing. D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S.!!!We eventually made our way to the Grand Bazaar… shopping galore! Over the next few days, Jared and I spent quite a bit of time at the Grand Bazaar. I was looking for the perfect Turkish coffee set to take home, and Jared was looking for an authentic Hookah. We came across a cute café and stopped for some coffee. Turkish coffee takes some getting used to, but it is definitely worth the experience. It’s very thick and the bottom half can be scooped with a spoon. We we came back through town, the sun was setting and the sky was beautiful. After a great stay in Istanbul, we were ready to see some more of Turkey. Our next stop was Pamukkale!