Posted by: Joseph J. Skarzenski | August 8, 2009

Arrival (Saturday write-up)

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We started today off bright and early to finish our journey to Constantinople. Immediately after breakfast we got on our bus to drive to the Greek border. After arriving, we browsed through a duty-free store before continuing our travels. Our next stop was at the Turkish border. We all purchased our visas there before continuing into the country. After spending some time at the border station, we were back on the bus and on our way again.

From that point on students’ hearts were pounding with excitement as we grew closer and closer to Constantinople. As we reached the outskirts of the city, we began taking photos of the city that is so different from anything else on the planet.

Our first visit was to the famous Hagia Sophia. The building served as an Orthodox church, Muslim mosque, and now as a museum. A first visit for many students provided them with an amazing experience as they gazed at the remains of Orthodox iconography in the building as well as the Muslin art that covers all of the walls. Following our visit we took a group picture in front of the Hagia Sophia before moving onto our second event.

The Bllue Mosque was just a quick walk over from the Hagia Sophia. Along the way through a park we took another group photo with the Hagia Sophia in the background. After, we walked directly to the Blue Mosque. Upon arrival the men took off their shoes while the women covered up and also removed their shoes. Inside we had the privilege of admiring some of the most impressive Ottoman art present in the city. The visit also provided students with an opportunity of seeing how some of the locals who visit the mosque pray.

Two big visits were more than enough to give us an eventful evening. Our private bus was waiting for us outside of the Blue Mosque to take us to the Hilton Hotel we will be staying at for the next two nights. We checked in to our fantastic rooms and then returned downstairs for a very satisfying dinner.

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To see photos from today’s visit including the Hagia Sophia and Constantinople, please click the link below.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/39885149@N06/sets/72157621859217427/show/

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