Journal Entry - 02. 02. 10 Istanbul, Turkey
BRL 02 - 03 - 2010

I’m getting used to waking up early now that we are almost one month into the tour. Sleeping past 6:30 has become a luxury. It felt so relaxing to actually wake up before the alarm went off at 7 am this morning instead of the normal routine of franticly turning the alarm off, jumping out of bed, packing with one hand and brushing my teeth with the other, oh, and maybe think about breakfast. So this morning after strolling around the room I got to sit around for about 45 minutes eating breakfast and actually speak to other people and sip a cup of tea not inhale it. Our first stop for the day, was the Blue Mosque. This was one of our first cultural changes from Europe. We all had to take our shoes off before entering the plush carpeted interior. Different to us, but much more preferable to the cold dark cathedrals we have become accustom to. The mosque was warm and we had cultural story time sitting in the corner listening about the Muslim faith. Next on our agenda was the Hagia Sophia. Throughout the tour so far many of my preconceived notions have been way off to reality, most of the landmarks and icons have been smaller in scale to what I was expecting. Not, the case for Hagia Sophia. I was so impressed at the size of the massive dome and the scale of the mosque in general. There were also lots of interesting wall decorations. The combination of Islamic and Christian work really brought a sense of the changing history the Hagia Sophia went through. At the end of the days tour, we are all elated to hear that the group wouldn’t have to meet up again until 8:30 the following evening. That meant we all could sleep in till our hearts desire. I have never seen so much joy over something we take for granted so often. It set a great mood for all of us despite the terrible, downpour that would later turn into snow fall. For the rest of the afternoon we rode the tram down to the spice market, where we picked up some Turkish Delight and a few different kinds of tea, including the amazing apple tea we have all fallen in love with in Istanbul. On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a place that was famous for pitas and cheese. It was fascinating to watch the women make the pitas and cook them on the stone in front of us. One of the most authentic, non touristic places I've been. The rest of the night was spent having a homework party in our room with a few friends, laughing and working on our design libraries. top Image- the dome of Hagia Sophia lower Image- details of the ornate decoration at the Hagia Sophia

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