We wanted to start at the Hagia Sophia but when we showed up there several guys directed us towards the Blue Mosque (just across the way), telling us it would be closing for prayer soon so we better hurry. Foolish tourists that we are, we decided to listen to them. They must have been an outfit of carpet sellers who work together, because once we arrived at the Blue Mosque we were immediately met by Yunus the Carpet Seller. Yunus, our own personal (and unwanted) tour guide. This was just the first of many scams we fell victim to while in Istanbul, including the shoe shine* scam which we learned about later while reading up on Wikitravel.
*From Wikitravel: "We only paid the guy 2 Lira and vowed to never pick up anything that anyone "happens" to drop in Istanbul again. I wanted to kick him in the balls, but we happened to be in a dark, empty alley and the boys were with us. On the plus side, Clark's sneakers have never looked shinier.
Anyways, back to the Blue Mosque also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, built between 1609 and 1616 by, you guessed it, Sultan Ahmed.
It was breathtaking.
Hi, my name is Margaret and I'm a tile-aholic.
Performing ablutions, very cold ablutions.
Sultan Ahmed's mausoleum, with his tomb and those of his wives, sons and daughters.
I liked all the turbans.
Although Yunus offered us a nice tour, Clark insisted that we experience the Hagia Sophia on our own. So we thanked him and explained that we didn't need his services anymore. He looked pretty crushed when we told him that we would not be visiting his carpet shop. He must not have gotten the message because he was still waiting for us outside of the Hagia Sophia. Booker saved the day by throwing a massive tantrum and we hurried off in another direction. Sorry, but when you're touring with a 4 year old and a 2 year old there's no time for browsing carpets that you don't plan on buying.
Despite the unwanted company, the Blue Mosque was pretty spectacular. It was built to rival the Hagia Sophia (they literally face each other) and it certainly comes close. I love me a good mosque, especially one with lots of intricate tile work but the whole time I was anticipating our next stop...