I used to live in Ankara, Turkey. My wife and I would often take the bus to Istanbul. It was only 5 hours away, and a nice break from life in the landlocked Capital. It was just a cool place to be, with so much history around every corner.
Wandering the alley in and around the Grand Bazaar was relaxing in an odd way, given the chaos, the noise and the constant demands by vendors to buy their stuff, much of which is not worth buying. There are always fresh juice stalls where for 1 lira you could get a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.
Riding the ferries on the Bosphorus was a brilliant way to see the mosques of the skyline. The hum of the motors mixed with the squawks of seagulls that follow the boats along, waiting for any scrap of food, and they had a certain comforting sound. A young man would usually come along to sell strong chai in small glasses. Another might sell simits, or pastry of some sort. It’s worth it just to jump on a ferry, not necessarily to get somewhere, but just for the ride, spending am afternoon going back and forth from Asia to Europe.
Good memories were brought up when I ran across this video, which does a good job of capturing just how busy the city can be on the one hand, and just how many places of beautiful refuge from the craziness there are on the other. Istanbul is a gigantic, crazy, beautiful, mysterious, heavily populated, noisy and wonderful place.