Every time we leave a city I’m so worried that I won’t like the new one as much, but I’m always wrong. There are just so many things to do in Istanbul! Like everyone says, it’s the gateway from West to East and vice versa. At first we thought we could visit Hagia Sophia and The Blue Mosque after the Basilica Cistern, the creepiest of all the places we’ve been to so far. But after the cistern we were short on time and not in the mood. Leave it to Lisa to find something so crazy! While we were down in the cistern, Carla kept humming the tune from Jaws and two ideas kept running through my head. First, the kids would love this place as much as Lisa.  Second, it’s been more than a thousand years so the columns should hold for an hour longer. Then I realized the truth is that if they give out any time we’re walking around the city, we’re dead anyway.

Ice Cream!

After our tour of the cistern, we needed some fresh air, so we changed our plans and decided to take an evening dinner cruise on the Bosphorus.  First, though, we couldn’t resist the ice cream we saw everyone eating. It turns out that in Istanbul the ice cream is made from sheep’s milk, which gives it a super velvety texture. The four of us tried different flavors so we could share. I had pistachio, which I still feel was the best, although Carla’s honey flavor was a close second. Unfortunately for Donna, this was one time when chocolate actually came in last place although it was still way better than the ice cream we are used to.

River Dinner Cruise

The evening dinner cruise was a perfect ending to our day. We’ve been doing so much that it was really nice just to slow down and relax for a bit. The belly dancer was a little over the top, but I loved the Turkish folk music and dancing. The food was good too, plus three of us drank a few glasses of raki and Donna had wine. I doubt I’ll ever drink “Lions’ Milk,” as they call it here, once I leave, but for now I enjoy drinking the local brew. As our boat sailed, we saw city lights shining behind Ottoman summer palaces, older mansions and modern villas on both sides of the river and I almost had to pinch myself to make sure it wasn’t a dream.

Planning More Things To Do

We chatted about our favorite places to visit so far and everything that’s coming up. Lisa is already excited about the Lotus Temple, a meditation center in India and I can’t wait for the Taj Mahal, the monument built for love. Carla said she wants to try some of the Mumbai curry she’s heard so much about and Donna wants to walk on the Great Wall of China, shop (what else?) and go to the beach. It was so pretty and peaceful that after a while we all just stared out the window with our thoughts. Tomorrow we see Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, and I plan to say a special prayer in both, thanking God for this amazing journey and my wonderful friends.

 Next: Hagia Sophia Dome Inspires Carla to Shop for Tiles