July 4-7th were spent in Istanbul with 6 other classmates. We woke up early everyday for breakfast and were walking from 9 or 10am until 11pm every night, resting occasionally to eat and watch the World Cup, of course. I have traveled to 13 countries before this trip, but this was the first trip I been on that had activities planned ahead of time for that day. When I travel with my dad, he wakes up and just walk in any direction. It was a nice change. The first day we spend just walking and the remaining three days we decided on about 4 specific places we wanted to visit, and wandered during our free time.

The people in Turkey were very friendly and have a great sense of humor. The city was very clean, and had amazing landscaping and gardening, probably the best flowers I have ever seen.

Here is a list of some of the most memorable attractions we visited:

Suleymaniye Turkish Bath
       The Turkish Bath was my favorite part of the trip. For 35 euro, our turkish bath started with being escorted to wooden style changing rooms, where I was provided shorts and tops. Then we where provided with Nalın (Bathing clogs), and escorted into the bathing room. We laid on the central massage marble stone for about 40 minutes to sweat out all the toxins. This particular bath was mixed, so all of us were allowed to remain together for the 40 minutes. The architecture was beautiful, but pictures were not allowed. After sweating out toxins, bathers came and took us into bathing rooms, 2 people per room. They rinse you off and begin the peeling process. After the pealing process, you move to a cooler stone where you are bathed and massaged. At the end, shampooing for your hair is offered. You are then allowed to remain in the heated room to relax further. After you are finished when you leave the hot room, a bather is waiting to offer you a new towel, you go into a private room, change out of your wet clothes and wrap the towel around yourself. When you leave the private changing room, the bather is waiting to fan dry you with a larger towel as well as dry your hair and face. You are escorted to another area where you enjoy a tea before ending you experience and changing into your own clothes. When you leave the turkish bath you are topped of with some water and some sweats. The turkish bath melted, peeled and kneaded away all possible stress of med school year one.

Blue Mosque
       The Blue Mosque was originally built in 1616, and is still used as a place of worship. In order to enter you will have to cover your legs and hair as well as remove your shoes. Coverings will be provided upon entry. When I entered, I was in awe on the gold details and intricate design of the domes.

Basilica Cistern

I did not know a lot about the Basilica Cistern before going, so the medusa heads were a surprise. Walking through this Cistern was mystical, and you are left courious to the reasoning behind the alluring details for a place only used to store water.

Topkapi Palace
      This palace was absolutely beautiful with rooms full of the most beautiful jewelry and artifacts you will ever see. Each room open of the palace was like a mini museum, holding treasures from the Ottoman Empire and more. With diamonds, emeralds and 6 foot swords, this Palace exceeded my expectations.

Grand Bazaar
      Before entering the Grand Bazaar, we decided we would meet up at the entry point within a certain time frame. We changed our mind and decided to stay together, and we were all very glad we did. It is not a matter of if you will get lost, but when! In addition to it being a maze it felt 100 times busier that any New York Street. This is the place to pick up your souvenirs, and experience the most of the Turkish sense of humor with marketing. Don't forget to haggle!.. and try not to get lost!

Bosphorus River
        We toured the Bosphorus River on a $7 boat ride. It allowed us to see more of the architecture that we would not have been able to walk to, however we were under the impression that the tour came with a guide. Instead it was a boat ride for over an hour, looking at impressive structures, that we couldn't name. If you do a river tour, just check that someone will be guiding it. However, for $7 it was a relaxing ride with a great view.

The Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern and Hagia Sophia can all be done in one day, but I recommend Topkapi Palace to be left on a separate day, so you can enjoy all it has to offer.

Things to Try:
Apple Tea
Teste Kebab
Ice Cream from a Stand

Teste Kebob is brought to your table and held over a flame.
After this they flips it and taps on the side of the clay pot (testi)
  until the pressure makes the top pop off while the wait
staff claps. I wasn't able to get the entire video. 
Ice Cream