We leave the Blue Mosque, head northwest into a local neighborhood. Tourist traps give way to run-down apartments, spartan çay shops and a dearth of trinkets. We enter the courtyard of a school, walking out to the terrace with the view of the Sea of Marmara.
The day fades as we enter the courtyard of a small mosque. Men pray outside its doors, facing the barred windows. It feels like it is not the time for tourists such as ourselves, so we depart down the main entrance on to the street. The tiny boutique Stone Hotel beckons, we head up to the patio.
All alone on the rooftop as sunset falls. Oil tankers sit in the sea, the last rays of sunlight illuminate the western walls of ancient buildings and the gold-topped spires of multiple mosques.
Another layer of the onion peels back, as we see a side of Istanbul previously unseen. We drink raki, have a soup and bread, and it is now quite dark as we make our way downstairs. Small talk with the hotel attendant, and then a walk through quiet streets before emerging near the Sultanahmet tram stop that takes us back across the Galata Bridge.