Multiple meals of so-so Air Canada food and then onto a smooth landing at the extremely busy Istanbul Ataturk airport. I think we saw 50+ airplanes parked while there, many at remote terminals on the tarmac, as the existing four terminals (two for passengers) aren't enough to handle all the airplanes-- a design capacity of 24 million passengers/year appears to be handling 35 million/year! (Wikipedia)
Subway and tram ride into Istanbul was a nice start to the city-- old, historic, lots of character. While there's assuredly tons of boring cinder block and poured concrete (much like what we saw of Athens a few years back), the view on the tram ride in was much more pleasant. t'was a bit of a walk to the hotel from the end of the tram, but that walk along the Bosphorus strait's European side still had lots of history.
Hotel area was quite nice, up modestly steep hill, and only a few minutes' walk from a busy restaurant/market area at the southern end of the Besiktas neighborhood. Quite nice to hit an area filled with locals and not tourists for Turkish donuts and some so-so doner kebap and deep fried mussels. Hit a fast food chain for some sort of top-rated ground meat sandwich as well, then walked to the top of the hill and looked at Taksim Square in the distance.