Today started off with a happy call from the event staff: our luggage arrived! After no information AT ALL – it magically showed up. I don’t care that it is now in 2 pieces duct taped together, it’s here! I will happily buy more luggage as long as I have something to wear this week! After our happy dance and a change of clothes, we joined the rest of the group for a Byzantine Tour. We loaded onto buses and drove to the old city. We walked around the Hippodrome where chariot races used to be help.
We then toured the Hagia Sophia which started as a church and then turned into a Mosque and now functions as a museum. Such rich history has taken place on the ground we have been walking on – it’s a little overwhelming. I have once again felt so ignorant while traveling at my lack of knowledge about the place I am visiting. Istanbul plays such an important role in the start of the Christian church and even after hours of touring, I still don’t fully understand the events that were so crucial in spreading the gospel.
The last stop on the tour was the underground Cistern. Beautifully lit so we are able to see its magnitude.
We had lunch in the greenhouse of a mansion. It was like something out of the secret garden, Turkish edition. The lunch was extrodinary with 3 large courses and unlimited wine. We spent the afternoon at the Grand Bazaar, the worlds largest covered market. This jam packed market is full of thousands of shops, vendors, and merchandise. I am pretty sure you could find ANYTHING you wanted in this market. Bargaining is name of the game so I put my reverse sales hat on and we went to town!
They took us out to dinner at Beyti. This restaurant is very well known in Istanbul and frequented by the rich and famous. We split up into country regions and enjoyed a Turkish meal with fantastic meats. The food was incredible and the restaurant was gorgeous! We sat with some hilarious ladies who had us laughing so hard all night.