The massive Aya Sofya built in 537 AD. Once it was the greatest church in Christendom until the conquest of 1453 when it was turned into a Mosque.
We are visiting the cradle of history - Constantinople or Istanbul, whichever name you prefer. The name was officially changed in 1923 so most of us don't remember this change? It is still the place where the continents of Europe and Asia meet.
The city has monuments, artifacts, buildings and enough history to make our heads spin each time we leave our hotel. Where else can you see the actual Rod of Moses and the sword of the biblical David hanging on a wall in an ancient palace called Topkapi?
The Aya Sofya and the incredible Blue Mosque are magnificent sights to behold as well. But it is not all about splendor or old things here. Sure the Grand Bazaar is ancient but the shops inside are full of anything you could possibly want to buy: like Turkish rugs, handcrafted dishes, stained glass, swords, clothes, perfumes and even belly dancing outfits or sultan's turbans. Three hours after entering the Bazaar we emerged from the labyrinth with a backpack full of things we must have needed, according to the merchants inside. Luckily that are ATM's everywhere!
Then there are the rare times when Maria and Captain Steve have a difference of opinion of sites to see. For example, today Maria really enjoyed wandering through the Spice Market with barrels of spices, nuts and exotic foods from around this part of the world. Captain Steve preferred a simple thing like visiting the ancient Harem inside the Palace. Unfortunately the Harem was empty!
On the roof of our hotel we eat our daily breakfast, looking out over this ancient city and the Bosphorus Sea where tankers, ferry boats and huge cargo ships spew their wakes upon the shores of Istanbul.
Tomorrow our rental car is schedule to arrive and we will begin challenging the Turkish drivers on our slow journey southward. We just hope we can make it out of Istanbul's traffic maze without getting too lost!
Sail on, sail on and sail safe Aspen…