Our arrival in Istanbul followed a two and a half hour flight from Rome. We have a cute three room apartment with an upscale bathroom (including an interesting shower we had not seen before) and our own spacious balcony/patio. Surrounding us are stores,shops, and restaurants.The Blue Mosque is only a five minute walk from here. It is an amazing sight to see so many big cargo ships on the Bosphorus just outside our windows. Because of some rain, we spent today working on the next leg of our journey (we need to stay one to two months ahead). The exploration of Istanbul should start tomorrow.