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Istanbul, Turkey

Heaving with 14 million people and millennia of rich history at every turn, Istanbul may shatter all your hopes of ever landing on a more spellbinding destination.

The Sultanahmet District, Istanbul’s UNESCO-heritage-designated Old City, roughly corresponds to the city limits of ancient Constantinople (Istanbul’s moniker prior to Ottoman conquest). Sultanahmet is a phenomenal piece of real estate, whether or not you are drawn to history at all — if history interests you in the least, however, you’re in for the treat of a lifetime.

We’re talking myriad rich layers — civilizations built upon civilizations — dating back to the ancient city of Byzantium and beyond.

Simply put, as long as civilization has existed, it has existed here. You do not have to be Turkish to feel a deeply personal — even primordial — pull to this ancient and beautiful place.

Our flight arrived into Ataturk International airport about half past four. It was an absolutely brilliant day from 35,000 feet, which continued through our final approach. Sure, we may have spent 30 minutes in a holding pattern waiting to get the go ahead to land, but the delay was tempered by the sweeping views of Istanbul and the Sea of Marmara on a crystal clear day (yay for window seats!).

In the sky, prior to arrival, we had already made the decision to push back our outgoing ticket date. It wasn’t cheap, but in hindsight perhaps one of the best travel decisions we’ve ever made.

A week in Istanbul — and no, it was nowhere near enough…but a damn good start.

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Istanbul, Turkey