Toughest City You’ll Ever Love

I left Istanbul with a suitcase full of evil-eye charms, a bag of undeveloped film, and a little streak of homesickness. I landed in New York just in time for the heat index to waver around 112 degrees. While lurking around air-conditioned coffee shops this week, I put together a little photo essay with the hope of comprehending my trip. Like any pilgrim who returns from a long journey, I have souvenirs to distribute and stories to recount. So now as the rain falls on the scorched asphalt and thirsty plants of Brooklyn, I offer images from another city that is as humid and bustling and full of history and humanity and delicious food.

Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque

Hagia Sophia, including its ideal napping spot under the apse and the view from a gallery window.

Topkapi Palace and its amazing Ottoman tiles.

Secret Beer. Yep, that's right--there's a restaurant on the Asian side that technically doesn't sell alcohol, but if you ask nicely, a large cold beer in a metal tea cup will appear.

Fishing the Bosphoros.

The Blue Mosque, one of my favorites for its lovely tiles and peaceful natural light.

Hagia Eirene, another piece of Justinian's legacy, now within the confines of the Topkapi Palace grounds.

Graffiti; taxi; all the protection you could ever need from the evil eye; and Sirkeci train station (bottom left), Istanbul's stop on the Orient Express.

Galatsaray, far from the touristy chaos of Sultanahmet.

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