Today I walked east of Sultanahmet, past the main tourist area of Istanbul, across the Golden Horn. It was quite nice. I got to see streets and neighborhoods of Turkey where the shop owners didn't speak any English, didn't try to sell me carpets and most items actually had price tags.
My first stop was the Galata Tower, a 700 year old structure that provides a really beautiful view of the surrounding area. All the major attractions can be seen from its balconies. Unfortunately most of it has been turned into a restaurant.
Leaving the tower I headed toward a church -- or so I thought. I got pretty lost and ended up walking along the Bosporus, which divides Europe and Asia. It was great as I still came across many interesting sights. My favorite was the Nusretiye Camil, in photo top left. At first I wasn't sure how to get a good photo of it, from the street it's obstructed by wires and trees. Looking around I saw a little wall that I figured I could climb up and get just enough clearance. It turned out to be a perfect view, though the people walking by gave me strange looks.
I stopped by a nice little park where I paid five Turkish lira to shoot balloons with a pellet gun, when I noticed a guy taking photos of me. Turns out he's from the U.S. and he thought I was shooting a real gun. We had a laugh about it and a nice long conversation about travels and such before going different ways.
By the time I started heading back to my hotel, it was getting late in the day. I decided to visit the Grand Bazaar, to do some shopping and say goodbye to a friend. That's him to the right. His name is Erdem (or Edi) and he's a very friendly 23 year old shop owner in the bazaar. He had a girlfriend from Bosnia and knew a few words in Serbian, so right away we had a fun conversation. It's always nice to meet people like him, because as a tourist most people try to rip you off. Before I'd buy anything, I'd go to his shop to ask him what a good price for it would be.
Tomorrow I won't be doing much. I may go check out a nearby aqueduct and then probably come back to the hotel to sleep. My flight is very early (5:30 am) with a six hour wait in Frankfurt. I'll try to get rested for the journey home.