. I was a little disappointed at how many tourists were there trampling all over the floors. It is still used as an active mosque, but they close the doors during the Call to Prayer so those who are praying will not be disturbed. After we went to the Blue Mosque we went into the Byzantine Underground Cisterns. This was such a great place to tour, becuase it is so unique. Built in 532AD during the Byzantine era by Justinian, the Citserns were used to store water for the Great Palace. After the Romans, people stopped using the Cisterns and eventually forgot about them. People only rediscovered it existed in the late 1500s. Now,its pretty mystical inside with an odd, dark and eery feeling because of the darkness. There is special lighting inside that makes the water glow and ripple with the HUGE fish swimming in the water. Closing our tour, we went to visit the Aya Sofya. Built in the 400ADs first as the Cathedral of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the cathedral is one of the most elaborately built and designed buildings of all time. in 1453 Sultan Mehmet loved the beauty of the Cathedral so much, he converted it to a mosque. Since Islam does not approve of icons or any religious figures, the Sultan whitewashed all the walls, took all icons down, and covered anything that resembled part of the Christian church. Today now that it is used as a museum, its pretty amazing becuase you can see where they are trying to restore the natural beauty by tearing down the mosque coverups. I have quite a few pictures from inside Aya Sofya, comparing the original mosaics and paintings to the Muslim coverup job
. It is a very long process and the dont even begin to predict when the restoration will be complete. When we attempted to leave the Aya Sofya, we were not allowed because of a riot/protest going on outside the gates against America. Even though we were not being targeted, it was too much of a possibility of danger, so we did not leave for about 20 minutes. Once the police came and followed the moving riots, we were able to dispurse safely. No problem! Just exciting.. :) Later that night, I met up with my friend Melis, who was staying with her family in Istanbul, and her family, who took me out to eat for Iftar (fast breaking). They were so nice to take me to fancy Turkish restaraunt and completely pay for me as well! SWEET! Free food! I'm always up for that. On Sunday, our last day, we all took a ferry tour on the Bosphorous between Europe and Asia. That was a beautiful ride, lasting about an hour and a half. I definetly recommend boat tours on the Bosphorous. We didn't do too much Sunday besides tour a few more locations and then caught a train at around 11pm at night back to Ankara. Once again, little sleep on the train.
So day two on Saturday, we got up bright and early to grab some breakfast and start our tour. A typical Turkish breakfast consists of cucumber, tomatoes, cheese, bread, hard-boiled eggs, olives and coffee/tea, which the hotel provided us, it was delicious. I cant quite get used to cucumbers and olives in the morning, so I leave those be, but I devoured some hardboiled egss and cheese! After breakfast we met with our tourguide. We had a tour guide who took us around to some of the most religious sites in the city. Although I'm sure tour guides help navigating through the turkish confusion in Istanbul, ours sure was annoying. Cant really say any of us cared for her too much, but since we were paying here to lead us, we followed. She took us to, what seemed like the center of attractions on the European side. There we went to the Blue Mosque, one of the most known mosques in Turkey, although it absolutely was not my favorite that I have been in. It is beautiful of course, but it is so touristy