Our final day in the city of Istanbul thankfully lasted until early evening before we had to catch our flight back to Athens.
8:00 Breakfast at hotel.
9:00 Depart from hotel with our luggage on the bus.
10:00 Visited the home place of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, the Orthodox equivalent to the Catholic Pope. Unfortunately, he was not there so we then drove to the neighborhood of Bebek to a church at which he was attending service.
11:30 Drive over to the Asian side of Istanbul for a a coffee break on the water.
12:00 Go to Beylerbeyi, the summer palace of the Sultan which was absolutely STUNNING. Built in the 1860’s, it was interesting to see how Western the style of the building was with is Baroque style architecture and bright. This is where the Sultan was exiled to and eventually died in 1918.
1:00 Lunch near the water where I got sarma (stuffed cabbage rolls) and a fresh salad.
2:00 Cruised the Bosphorous on our own boat! We were picked up on the Asian side and traveled up to the Golden Horn. There was so much beautiful waterfront architecture. My favorite part was when we could hear the call to prayer coming from a mosque that we were passing by.
4:00 Visited the Süleymaniye Mosque located on the third hill of Constantinople. This mosque is the largest in the city and many of the sultans are buried in its graveyard.
5:00 Walked through the Spice Market. The market is significantly smaller than the Grand Bazaar as were were able to cover it on foot in about twenty minutes. Professor Karavas knew a Greek vendor from whom we purchased teas and turkish delight to bring back with us.
6:00 Had some baklava for a snack before driving to the airport for our 9:20 flight.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Istanbul and all it had to offer. There was so much to do and while we were able to squeeze in the major sights, I could easily spend a week walking throughout the Golden Horn section of the city, trying out restaurants, and visiting the outer neighborhoods of the vast city. I know at least one student that already plans on returning later on in the semester. We were lucky to have such wonderful guides that were so knowledgable about the city’s history and people. At a time when many Muslim cities are not viewed as safe to the Western world, I find it important to say that I did not feel uneasy at any point on the trip. Many of us on the trip felt that going to Istanbul was the first time we had really gone abroad in the sense that we were no longer in a Western city. Istanbul truly is a modern city with wonderful restaurants, historical sites, and friendly people that any person would be fortunate to experience.