Day 2 (Tuesday, June 17)
Tuesday we walked over to the Hagia Sophia; we got a bit of a slow start but we had already gotten tickets the day before so we got to skip the line! It was a Christian Cathedral from the 500s to the 1400s and then was a Muslim mosque until 1931 when it was turned into a museum. Sadly there used to be tons of mosaics which were mostly removed when it became a mosque. But it is really beautiful and huge!
Then we went to Mosaic Museum and then the Archeology Museum which were pretty good. Then we finally found a really good place to eat! And it was kind of cool that we got to eat sitting on cushions on the ground :). (Below: tomato rice & mashed potatoes w really good chicken on top, and yellow rice w mushrooms in the middle).
Then we tried out Istanbul’s public transportation and took the Tram to Dolmabahce Palace which served as the main administrative building for the Ottoman Empire from 1856 – 1922. It was HUGE but we couldn’t take pictures of the inside.
Then Zina’s family took the tram back to the apartment and Becky and I went to Galata Tower which was built in the 1300s. (Galata Tower on the left, and pics below are taken from the top of the tower.)
Then we took the underground metro to Taksim Square, which is a modern/touristy area of Istanbul with lots of stores and restaurants (kind of like Times Square in NYC). We just walked down the main street …way down looking for another mysterious restaurant… but finally settled for some mediocre buffet food and ice cream and then took the metro and tram back to the apartment. The public transportation in Istanbul was really good – better than DC… but so far it seems pretty much every metro system is better than DC’s…