Outside the Blue Mosque, the red flag

Outside the Blue Mosque, the red flag

On the way back from Kazakhstan, I stopped for two-and-a-half days in Istanbul. It was my first time in the former Constantinople.

It’s a fascinating place with so many different layers of history piled up on top of each other — Byzantine capital, Ottoman imperial city, teeming Turkish metropolis.

After Aktau, I was jumping for joy to be in a real city, where one could get non-instant coffee and find a newspaper not in Russian. Since I hadn’t seen any of the tourist things, I approached the hordes and dove in.

Here are a few snaps I took scurrying from one site to the next: