we said...

where we indulge our vices in istanbul

bentley hotel, expensive to very expensive, 011-90-212-291-7730, www.bentley-hotel.com. a trendy neighborhood, chic clientele, and designer accommodations complete with high-tech electronics and espresso machines - you might think you were in a hotel in new york or los angeles, but this is istanbul at its finest. but the hotel has only 50 rooms and eight suites, so you'd better book ahead.

hotel sari konak, moderate, 011-90-212-638-6258, www.sarikonak.com. the rooms at this charming, family-run establishment are just fine, but we prefer the roof. why? that's where you'll find a lovely terrace with unparalleled views of the blue mosque and the marmara sea.

kumpir street vendors, inexpensive. the ortaköy section of town may feature some of the most coveted tables in town (at restaurants like dada and angelique), but we'd rather wander its cobblestone paths and plop down a lira for one of those crazy kumpir concoctions - a giant baked potato stuffed with cheese, butter, and everything from pickles to peas.

the pudding shop, inexpensive, 011-90-212-511-0539, www.puddingshop.com. an istanbul institution since 1957, there is perhaps no better, cheaper, or more historic place to introduce your taste buds to turkish cuisine.

binbirdirek cistern, 011-90-212-517-8725. the oldest and second-largest cistern in istanbul, binbirdirek’s 224 columns once held 50,000 cubic meters of water, and then later, um, trash. today, it’s a worthwhile historic, if somewhat anomalous, family attraction. better yet, it’s open until midnight, and admission gets you free tea, coffee, or soft drinks.

cemberlitas hamami, 011-90-212-522-7974, www.cemberlitashamami.com.tr. dating back to 1584, this turkish bath is not only authentic (prepare to be scrubbed, rubbed, lathered, and bathed) and a great spot to wind down after a long day of sightseeing, but it was built by the same architect who designed the breathtaking blue mosque.