This is from HUGer Alexis:
Today we had an early start to catch the ferry and drive to Istanbul. The long drive gave us a chance to reflect on all of our activities thus far: we've now been in three of the seven continents of the world, seen our first wonder of the ancient world, been in the 2nd and 3rd largest libraries of the ancient world (I geeked out only a little) and have gone to 5 of the 7 churches mentioned in Revelation!
Today was quite different from all the other days because we began to see a mix of old and new from our trip. As we approached the city, we could see the minarets present in the city skyline with the skyscrapers, and knew that we were about to have a huge cultural experience. On the bus, Omer explained to us the origin of the name Istanbul. In Greek, "is-tan-polis" means "go to the city", and Istanbul was widely recognized as the city to be in, a lot like our New York City. Istanbul gradually grew from "Istanpolis".
We started with visiting the cistern underneath the city that was built in the 6th century AD by Christians. The cistern was built on an impressive scale, with 336 pillars and walls 4 meters (13 feet) thick. The cistern was never more than 2/3 full for fear of water pressure cracking the foundation. After visiting the cistern, we crossed a few rivers- I mean, streets- to visit the Istanbul Archeological museum, where we saw more ancient artifacts of Turkish history. In the ancient civilizations section, we saw several things from the Mesopotamia area, including the Code of Hammurabi. A separate building is the tile and ceramic section, which used to be a sultan's palace that we saw beautiful pieces in. Afterwards, Omer gave us a small city tour, pointing out mosques, buildings with different architecture inspiration, and points of interest. We stopped for a quick Turkish sesame bread pretzel, sipped some delicious apple tea, and plunged into the spice market. There were hundreds of people crammed everywhere with hundreds of stores. True to its name, the primary items for sale were spices, but tea, tea sets, scarves, and T shirts could also be found. We all had to stick together and learn how to bargain for something we wanted. After an hour, we all got back together to hop on the bus and ride back to our hotel for the night.
We miss you dearly from Turkey, and are having so much fun!
P.S. Don't worry mom, I won't leave Turkey without getting you apple tea.