We arrived here nearly a week a ago, and I haven't been motivated to update this blog. It could be that we are having such a marvelous time, but I'm also certain that I can't find the words to adequately describe my new "favorite city." Istanbul struck all of us immediately as vibrant, modern, energized, hip, and multicultural. At the same time i's also an ancient city, more than 2,500 years old, still retaining walls from when it was Byzantium and later Constantinople. It's a very large and sprawling city with a population of 15,000,000 or so. Immigrants from the rural areas and neighboring countries pour in each day to find work. We are staying at the Richmond Hotel in Beyoglu, the "new town", a century old, but newly modernized. It's where the cool restaurants, coffee houses, and night clubs are. Each afternoon and into the evening, thousands of people and familes are walking or dining in outdoor cafes. There are street musicians and vendors and stores along the main boulevard and also along the narrow, winding side streets. Women dress in everything from modern chic clothing to being completely concealed by black veils. A great many Turkish women cover their hair with scarves, tied under their chins. When I was a kid, my mom used the term "babushka" for those who dressed this way, though it's a Russian term. One can catch views of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus down side streets. People are friendly and feel of the Mediterranean in summer fills the air. Of course I love this city!