Published: June 16th 2012June 15th 2012
Our guide, Zileha, met Ken and Bobbi at their hotel and took a taxi to our hotel at about 10am and we walked off to see the Blue Mosque (today is expected to have the largest gathering for prayers so we wanted to be there ahead of that rush). After the Blue Mosque we visited the Topkopi Palace then found a very nice shaded cafe for lunch then on the Hagia Sofia Museum. We spent at least 90 minutes in each of these immense visits . . . . . rather than go into what each is about we suggest you simply google them and check out our photos. The most interesting aspect of these visits was to learn the fact that soon after leading Turkey to independence and crushing the Ottoman rule, declaring Turkey a secular state, Ataturk was asked by the Pope to return the Haga Sofia to the catholic church to which his response was no and making it a museum.
We visited a Turkish carpet store and learned the various qualities and process for making wool on wool and silk on silk carpets seeing one small carpet that measured no more than 18" x 24" which
was priced at $64,000. We didn't buy one but were impressed with the quality and wondered how much our guide would make in comission if we had purchased one (it seems everyone in Istanbul is an agent of some sort). We then visited the Grand Bazaar through Gate 1 (there are 27 gates!). The best part during the visit of the Bazaar was listening to all of the calls by shop owners and one even said "May I hassel you?". We bid good bye to our guide and came back to Neorion and enjoyed a round of beers on the roof top and reminisced about our day. Ken and Bobbi took off for the W and we went to bed. We figured our tour with Zileha lasted 10 hours! Tomorrow we'll spend the day on the Istanbul City tour.
There are more photos below