View of the Bosphorus from Obelisk Hotel
After a long flight, we arrived at the  
Ataturk Airport on May 13, 2007.  A van
driver from our hotel welcomed us at the
airport.  Our hotel was conveniently
located in the old town on the Asia side.

Our lead guide was Sidar Duman, a Turk,
and assistant guide was Cliff Cameron
from Rick Steves' office.

After the orientation, the group set out
to stroll over to the historic Blue Mosque.  
Its real name is Sultan Ahmet Mosque,
but tourists call it the Blue Mosque,
because of the beautiful blue tiles inside.   
We walked into the area where a man
from the  mosque explained a table used
for the Islamic burial.  Rich or poor, all
deceased Islams are equally cleansed and
clothed on the table.  I don't know what
they were discussing in Turkish, but
suddenly the old man began laughing and
Sidar started laughing, and laughter being
contagious, we all started laughing, but
we weren't sure why.

Later we took off our shoes and went
inside the mosque.  It was our first
"Wow" moment, but unfortunately, our
cameras didn't capture the interior view
very well.  More reason for you to go
there yourself.  
Our first group dinner was
held at an atrium-like
restaurant of another hotel.  
Jerry was introduced to
Turkey's unofficial national  
drink called raki.  I loved our
dessert.
Day 1