This first day in Istanbul is unscheduled to relax and get adjusted and oriented, as well as to shop and explore.
After a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, you may want to set out and explore the Beyoglu neighborhood. Unless you're really brave, I do not recommend going out alone. It's easy to get lost in a new and unfamiliar city, and you'll be spotted by merchants of varying degrees of legitimacy who are very skilled at separating the unwary from their money.
|Historic Trolleys on Istiklal Caddesi.|
Armed with some cash, you might want to explore Taksim Square and walk down Istiklal Caddesi (Independence Avenue), a 1-1/2 mile pedestrian street with the historic little red trolley running down the middle. Lots of browsing and shopping (as well as snacking and people watching) can be done here.
About halfway down the street, don't miss the Church of St. Anthony, the largest and most famous Catholic Church in Istanbul. In the courtyard is a new statue of Pope John XXIII, beloved of the Turks because of his loving and positive attitude when he was Papal Nuncio to Turkey during World War II. It's always bustling with visitor, and you may also notice a significant number of young Muslims coming in to pray.
If you continue a little beyond the end of the street, you'll find the Galata tower. Don't miss climbing to the top. The view is breathtaking on a clear day.
I plan to take this walk, probably late in the morning. Anyone's welcome to come with me if you want. I'm not sure where I'll go from the tower. Possibly I'll take a tram to the Sultanahmet area to visit Dogan of the Terrace Guesthouse, where we will stay for the extra four nights at the end of the Pilgrimage.
You're welcome to come along with me, but you also may want to arm yourself with a map and explore other parts.
Be sure you're back at the Hotel by 5:00 pm. That's when we will celebrate the opening Mass of the Pilgrimage, which will be followed by an opportunity to meet Aydin Eroglu (our guide), as well as, we hope, Ersan Atsur, the owner of Orion Tour, and some of his staff.
|l-r: Fr. Tom, Ersan Atsur, owner of Orion Tour; Aydin Eroglu, our tour guide|
This will be followed by dinner at the hotel, and some leisure time before bed. Tomorrow starts early, just like almost every