June 25- Day 2 in Istanbul

We began the morning at the Blue Mosque. Charissa, Anna, and I were required to don gowns and head scarves. Everyone was required to remove their shoes before entering the mosque. The Blue Mosque received its name from the decorative blue tiles from Iznik (Nicaea). It was very beautiful. 

After that we wandered the Spice Bazaar. There were trays of Turkish Delights as far as the eye could see. Mid-morning, we got on board a local ferry and took an hour and half ride on the Bosphorus. Amazingly, we never left Istanbul. That’s how large this city is! We had a delicious lunch overlooking the water. 

Our next stop was the Chora Church. It was a monastery from the 4th century. It had beautiful mosaics of the life of Mary, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and Paul the Apostle. In a country that is close to 99 percent Muslim, it was comforting to be in a beautiful church with the familiar symbols of our faith. 

We spent a couple of hours exploring the Topkapi Palace. It was the palace of the Ottoman Sultan and his family, harem, and workers. It was built in the mid fourteen hundreds. There are beautiful gardens and a view that can’t be beat. Some of the rooms display what life was like centuries ago for the ruling family. Others are like art museums with ornate weapons, gifts from other countries and rubies, emeralds, and diamonds galore. There is a room filled with oil paintings of the sultans. The last “museum” we walked through contained many relics. They were interesting to see but I am highly dubious that I saw Moses’ staff or the arm bones of John the Baptist. 

We did a quick walk through the Grand Bazaar. Many shop keepers who are desperate for sales were disappointed with us. Tourism is way down. It has been great for us with good prices and no crowds but it is difficult on the locals. 

Tomorrow we have a six hour drive to Troy. Sabbath blessings to all. Nancy