Highlights: Turkey (Istanbul)

Aya Sofya: Or Hagia Sophia, depending. It's a museum, now, but in its 1500 year history has been an Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic cathedral as well as an imperial Mosque. The main dome is amazing and huge but almost more real seeming is the way the marble doorways have been worn from use. It remains the fourth largest cathedral in the world.

Süleymaniye Mosque: The relatively young, almost 500 year old mosque built by master architect of the time, Mimar Sinan. Huge and gorgeous and immaculately kept up.

Spice Bazaar: Or Mısır Çarşısı, it is, as its English name implies, a market primarily for spices, though you can get an awful lot of Turkish Delight and textiles here as well. Amazing to walk through and gawk at the perfectly piled spices, walnut stuffed figs, and dried apricots, even if it is jam packed with people. Plus, it smells great.

Ayran: An incredibly refreshing, salted, watered down yogurt drink. Especially good when fresh from the machine that aerates and froths it.

Peaches: It's hard to beat perfect peaches. Especially when they're from a fruit cart on the corner.

Balat: The aforementioned neighborhood where we found not only beautiful views of the Golden Horn, but also got to meet some wonderfully friendly people. One of these, Sebastian, took us into the Church of St. Mary of the Mongols - another 1000+ year old church that we didn't even know we were standing next to. In addition to the amazing artwork and architecture inside, there are a few small steps that lead down to a still un-excavated tunnel that is said to lead all the way to the Aya Sofya...5km away.

Fresh Pomegranate Juice: All over the place and crazy delicious. Ingredients? Pomegranate. Or your fruit of choice...

Boat rides on the Bosphorus: Especially awesome with good friends and weather. Plus, they're cheap! Head to Ortaköy for the docks surrounded by a cool little neighborhood.

Mor Takı: Unique and original handmade jewelry - this place came to us on the hot tip of one of our co-workawayers in the Czech Republic.

Lokanta Helvetia: An excellent and affordable example of the cafeteria style lokanta eateries around town where you pick five dishes for your plate from those available for a fixed price. We went twice and left both times filled to the gills.

Tilework: It's in so many places around the city that it is nearly impossible to miss, but there are particularly outstanding examples of the color and pattern variations throughout Topkapı Palace.

Uncontainable: This was part of the ISEA and had some amazing interactive work from around the world. A particular highlight being the hanging plants that were somehow rigged (magic?) to produce sound art by the slightest touch. No wires could be seen...just plants.

Rakı lesson from Herman: Rakı, an anise spirit, is the national drink of Turkey. Being as such, there are of course certain ways to drink it, made all the more interesting learning from someone who not only knows the ways, but has the traditional glass chilling apparatus already in the freezer.

Location:Dubai,United Arab Emirates