After breakfast we left the hostel early to make the most of the few hours Karen and Carolyn had left in Istanbul so we headed to some of Sultanhamet's most famous and popular sites. First up was the Blue Mosque, so called for the blue tiles that cover the domes and walls on the outside of the beautiful building. I found it surprising that although they were enforcing the removal of shoes and covering of legs and shoulders, women were walking around without coverings over their heads. We covered ours out of respect for the culture and religion.
It began raining (for the first time all week) as Karen and Carolyn did the last of their souvenir shopping. We had one last meal together before they caught the shuttle to the airport for their flight.I took another stroll, when there was a break in the weather, through the Hippodrome past the 3 columns of Constantine, Serpantine and an Egyptian Obelisk.
This morning, before my lunchtime shuttle, I visited the Basilica Cisterns. Built in 532AD, by the Emperor Justinian, the cisterns provided storage for the drinking water for Constantinople. They are a beautiful structure featuring columns, arches and 2 carved Medusa's heads. Neither are the right way up so that you cannot be turned to stone by looking into the Gorgon's eyes.
I then headed to the Grand Bazaar and got lost among it's 4 000 shops. Luckily I was able to locate the tramline and use it to navigate my way back to the hostel in time to make my bus to the airport. After another knuckle-whitening ride through Istanbul traffic I made my flight and arrived back in London, exhausted but with wonderful memories of an amazing country.