Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mediterranean Cruise (Part 6) - Istanbul

We docked this morning at 9AM in Istanbul, across from the old city. From our ship we could see several mosques that we were able to visit later in the day. The small boat, ship, and ferry traffic in the Bosphorus was amazing to watch; it's a wonder no one runs into each other. Some of the very small boats look like corks, bobbing wildly up and down in the wake of the larger boats. From the rear of our ship we could also see the suspension bridge over the Bosphorus that connects Europe with Asia. Apparently there is also a tunnel that connects to two continents.

Hagia Sophia to the right and the Blue Mosque to the left in the background.

Most everything we saw today was within walking distance of the center of the old town. We visited the Blue Mosque, where the ladies had to wear a scarf over their head and we all had to remove our shoes. We also visited the Hagia Sophia Mosque, which is now a museum. Many of the Istanbul mosques started out as Christian churches that were built by the Romans. Later when the Ottomans pushed the Romans out, they converted the churches to mosques.

The Blue Mosque

After visiting the mosques we went underground to see a large cistern built by the Romans to collect and store water. Apparently, a scene from one of the James Bond movies was shot down there.
Today was a national holiday in Turkey, so there were a lot of people out and the traffic was very heavy. Skies were sunny and the weather was just cool enough to require a sweater most of the day.
I had hoped to get some pictures of the ship passing through the Dardanelles. It was dark early this morning when we passed through on the way in to Istanbul and it will be dark tonight before we get there on the way out.

Tomorrow, Izmir/Ephesus.

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