A more detailed first full day in Istanbul

Trip Start Jul 24, 2012
Trip End Aug 09, 2012

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Our morning started out with a lovely breakfast. After breakfast we had the great pleasure to meet our Cruise Manager Sebastian Leroy and many of our fellow passengers.

Our morning tour took us on a city tour of Istanbul. Our tour guide, Seref gave us so much information regarding the history of Instanbul from a general sense to sometimes a little political!!! I could not believe that there are between 14 and 16 million inhabitants in Instanbul....... Istanbul is a concrete jungle!!!!

Our driving tour took us by the Galata Tower and city walls. We stopped by the Hippodrome in the old city where we started a walking tour. We had an opportunity to visit the Blue Mosque. The inside is quite a place to see. I have to admit, I have never been in a mosque!!! I expected the mosque to be very plain looking, not at all. After leaving the Blue Mosque we headed over for a Turkish Rug demonstration... Saw some beautiful rugs, didn't order one!!!! They served us a light lunch and a drink of choice - I had Turkish wine and Fred had a cold Turkish beer. We ended the tour at the Haghia Sofia.

Our afternoon tour started at the Haghia Sofia. The Haghia Sofia, the Byzantine Church of the Holy Wisdom of God was the largest building in the world for nearly 1000 years. This church was the church of the Patriarch of Constantinople and the center of the Eastern Orthodox Church until the city fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. Through the history of the building it went from a church to a mosque. All the Christian symbols were taken down or covered. The Haghia Sofia is now a museum which has both Christian and Muslim symbols. Several people took a tour of the balcony, the view gave them a greater feel for the actual size. Next we headed for the underground cisterns. Amazing is all I can say. The cisterns were built by Byzantine engineers which was stored water for the palaces. The cisterns have fish swimming around, the reason for the fish is to know whether the water is safe to drink. Back in the days they had to protect the palaces in the event someone tried to poison the water. We finished our tour with a shopping trip to the Grand Bazaar, built by Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror in the 15th century, one of the largest covered markets in the world. There are 1200 shops!!!! One could make purchases of jewelry, pottery, spices and of course carpets. Too big for me!!!!!

After a full day of touring we joined a couple we had met for a little dinner. We had no plans, just walked until we found something that looked interesting. The men had a Turkish dinner, the girls played it safe with pasta, which was very good... Oh yes, I had Turkish wine and Fred had Turkish beer!!!

Tomorrow will be another busy day........

Please excuse any spelling mistakes, don't have spell check on this sight!!!!
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