Here’s a quick synopsis of the day so far:
After a traditional Turkish breakfast this morning (lots of jams, grapes, tomatoes, olives, eggs, cheese, and Turkish coffee), we set out to Topkapi Sarai. It was the primary palace of Ottoman Sultans for hundreds of years, and included beautiful hand-painted tiles, a mosque, a harem, and now also has a display of many Islamic and historical artifacts including lots of jewelry.
Then, we went to the Hagia Sophia, a gigantic basillica that was later converted into a mosque, but now is owned by the government and serves as a museum. There were amazing mosaics, and the size of the place was breathtaking.
Then, we grabbed a quick lunch at a small shop and got these Turkish wraps that consisted of a tortilla wrapped around shaved chicken, tomatoes, pickles, and french fries! It was delicious!
Then, we went on a boat tour up and down the Bosphorous, a strait that separates Europe from Asia; so I have now officially been “at sea” and seen Asia! Two more firsts!
Then, we were free to roam for a couple hours, so a group of us went through the spice market to find the Grand Bizarre which was HUGE. So many venders sold everything from Ottoman lamps, to jewlery, to toys, to purses, to nuts. Then, we wandered through the streets for a bit until we found a small cafe and had some Turkish coffee.
Then we returned to the hotel! Now, we are planning to eat at an authentic Turkish restaurant for dinner, and then we’ll just go from there!
It has been an exhausting day full of lots of walking, but also great, as I began to soak in more about Istanbul, Turkey, and what it is like to be abroad for the first time!