My first full day takes me into the heart of old town, Sultanahmet, to visit the Underground Cistern, the Hippodrome with the Egyptian Obelisk and the Column of Constantine, and the Blue Mosque. Originally, my plan was to visit the Hagia Sophia first, but the lines are too long. I cross over to Karaköy and walk back along the Galata Bridge. From Eminönü, I take the bus to Chora Church. The mosaics are strikingly detailed. From there, I visit the old city wall. At Ayvansaray, I miss the ferry by two minutes, seeing it take off. The attendant tells me that it will be another hour. Instead of that, I catch a bus back to Eminönü, where I hike up the hill to the Mosque of Süleyman the Magnificent. That is enough to call it a day.
First thing on Wednesday morning, I get into the line for Hagia Sophia. Even a half hour before opening, the line is already wrapping around the building. This is the most spectacular building here, especially the way streaming shafts of light hit reflective gold pieces. After brunch, I walk over to Gülhane Park and also visit the Istanbul Archaeology Museum. I am saving the Topkapı Palace for the next day, since I signed up for the ABJS tour.