Just wanted to alert everyone to a tour which will acquaint you with the real Istanbul. A friend recommended it to me and my husband and I went on it this week. It is run by some young, educated Turkish men and they love discussing issues of politics and religion so it may not be for you if you are easily offended. We loved it though. We went into multiple neighborhoods that we would never have seen on our own, including the Kurdish one, ate lunch at one of the mother's houses, visited an elementary school and interacted with the children, went to a Turkish bath, learned to play a game popular in Turkey, went on a private boat ride on the Bosphorus and had a magnificent dinner. I haven't even covered it all here. It costs 200 euros a person but you don't pay for anything else all day long and they don't allow tips. They have a great website which will give you a better idea of it (just google The Other Tour) and there are multiple reviews on Trip Advisor. This tour seems so perfect for many Rick Steves site users that I had to post about it.