Istanbul is supremely exotic, warmly welcoming, and quite unique – after all, where else can you tour Europe and Asia on the very same afternoon? Must sees include Haghia Sophia, decorated in 30 million tiny mosaic tiles, the greatest church in Christendom for 1000 years, then a mosque and now a museum; and Topkapi, palace of sultans, complete with harem quarters. And of course shopping in the Grand Bazaar, a medieval version of a mall, for unusual gifts to take home, stopping along the way in a café for a cup of Turkish coffee or mint tea.
Athens has quite a reputation to live up to. Named for Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, the city is credited with being the cradle of European civilization and birthplace of democracy. Ruins and relics of its glory days are scattered throughout the modern city, popping up where you least expect them. Its crowning glory is the Acropolis, perched atop a hillside, and covered in carved and columned temples of varying degrees of antiquity. Not quite so old is the Plaka, an appealing neighborhood for a stroll down cobblestone streets, past old mansions and a plethora of outdoor tavernas ideal for watching the world go by, while munching tasty Greek snacks.
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