Istanbul is a two-hour flight from Zurich, but this amazing and vibrant city, a remarkable blend of East and West, might well be a world away. Ancient Byzantine churches sit cheek by jowl next to Ottomon mosques; merchants do their best to lure you into their carpet/ceramic/jewelry shops. If they succeed, they may invite you to have some apple tea while they show you their ware. Five times a day, loudspeakers atop the minarets of the mosques issue the eerie (to these Western, non-Muslim ears anyway) call to prayer, echoed by neighboring mosques. The food, from the delicious borak (a flaky pastry filled with cheese or other savory things) to the Turkish Delight, is a treat. And the fish, caught fresh from the Black Sea or the Sea of Marmara, is everywhere, usually simply prepared and very good.
My visit to the hamam (Turkish bath) had to be one of the highlights of my trip. I'll write more about it later. For obvious reasons, I don't have any pictures!
Needless to say, we loved Istanbul. Check out the web album: http://picasaweb.google.com/InnocenceAbroad/Istanbul/
Here is a movie clip of the call to prayer in the Blue Mosque. The video is really not that good, but just listen and enjoy: