After leaving the mosque we passed the Egyptian Obelisk, which is 3,500 years old, and Istanbul’s oldest monument. It was built in Egypt and brought to Istanbul in 390 B.C. Then we learned about the art of hand-woven wool and silk rugs. A local weaver demonstrated the process as we sipped on traditional apple tea in the showroom. Afterwards we spent a few hours in the Grand Bazaar, where we enjoyed negotiating prices of souvenirs with local merchants. Next we visited Santa Sophia. This was a Christian Orthodox church built by Justinian that was later converted to a mosque. Much later, it was converted to a museum. We then enjoyed a traditional Turkish lunch, followed by a trip to the Topkapi Palace. In the palace we visited the house of the sultan and his family, the walls of which were covered by hand-painted tiles. We also visited the palace treasury, which holds the crown jewels including war medallions, an 86-carat diamond, and a golden, jewel encrusted cradle. We were not allowed to photograph these treasures nor bring them home as souvenirs, but we look forward to telling you more about them when we return.
After a long day of sightseeing we were ready to re-board the ship and sail to Mytilene, a town in the Greek Isles.