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Workmen on the Active Streets of Istanbul
In Istanbul’s old city area, many of the cobbled, windy streets are navigable by foot only. While strolling near Suleymaniye Mosque, we came across an older man who symbolized the ultimate “UPS guy,” Turkish style. We watched in awe as he carried his haul of boxes up a steep incline.
The hard-working men on the streets were just as dynamic as the architecturally stunning structures that towered above. When not working, we found the locals pampering stray cats or eagerly offering directions and tourist advice to visitors. Most of these helpful men were carpet salesmen by trade. One particular salesman pulled out a chair in the street, sat me down, served me tea in the traditional shot-glass sized cup, cracked some jokes, then escorted me to the nearby Roman Cistern for a visit. He waited by the exit as I explored the ancient underground, and only then did he invite me to view his showroom.
This part of Istanbul is so dense in history you could stay entertained for days without reaching the modern part of the city. Within a one-mile radius, you can explore the landmark trio of Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque. A must-try is the Turkish bath experience. You can relax with a sudsy scrub-down in the same bathhouse as those who came to get clean five centuries before.