Here was Days 1 & 2:http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=7837.msg124729#msg124729
... and now, Day 3, Part 1 (these will all go in the Articles section of the site, once it's ready to go).
Day 3 - June 2. The Old City, and The Great Church, Part 1.
We had an early wakeup for an 06:30 breakfast - our first encounter with the elegant simplicity of the Rum hospitality in and around Constantinople. All of our meals were completely filling, yet quite simple: fresh vegetables, breads, etc. for breakfast, with juices and coffee (okay, those who actually drink coffee said the coffee there wasn't very good). Anyway, we hurried down the hill in our attempt to catch the 07:15 boat to the Old City (Sircesi); one of our group, always the eager beaver, attempted to get us to board the wrong boat (07:05), which would have taken us to the wrong destination, and would have stranded the ladies on the island (since they had not yet caught up with us - they were staying in the nice Halki Palace hotel while we were at the monastery).
At the dock in the city we were met by Dn. Joachim from the Patriarchate and Mr. Ozkourkoutis (I'm not going to try to write that out every time; suffice it to say Mr. O will do) who was to be our guide for the trips in and around Constantinople. We crossed the street and boarded the commuter train and went West towards SultanAhmet, the name for the district where Agia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, et al. are located. As soon as we exited the train, our first stop was the ruins of the Church of St. Euphemia, which is literally at the roadside. All that is left of the Church is the footprint of the building in the ground with the stone floor. The Church was unique in that it was completely circular (not very large). Her relics now lie at the Phanar, but during their time traveled from Chalcedon (where she was originally) to Constantinople, to Chios (after the Crusaders sacked the city, her relics were lost at sea and washed up on the island), and back to Constantinople.
Our next stop was the ruins/footprint of the Hippodrome. A large oval race-track, the Hippodrome was located near Agia Sophia and right next to the Royal Palace. All that is left of the Hippodrome are the footprint (where the track was), a few of the obelisks, the tri-snake pillar from Delphi, and the Sultan's box that was donated to the Ottomans by Kaiser Wilhelm. The one obelisk is a famous half-obelisk originally from Egypt (the other half is still there) that dates from the BC era. It was brought to Constantinople in an interesting way - it was thrown into the water and towed by ship. The other obelisk that stands is (I believe) from the reign of Constantine Porpgyrigenitos (the Purple-born). The three-snake pillar was one of the spoils that sat in the Hippodrome; there were many items that had been taken from pagan temples and worship that were on display in the arena as symbols of the triumph of the Empire. The snakes' heads were cut off by the Moslems, who thought they were demonic.
Right next to the Hippodrome is the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, commonly known as the Blue Mosque (a moniker given for the blue color of the interior tiles, which were brought from mines in Nicea). We proceeded to visit this mosque, which has a few distinctive characteristics. As one may already know, the number of minarets about a mosque is an indication of its importance in the Moslem world. Until the building of the Blue Mosque, the only place that had six minarets was Mecca, the highest holy site of Islam. In the building of the Blue Mosque (which the Sultan wanted to overshadow Agia Sophia, a feat that was definitely not accomplished), he asked the builder for a golden minaret. Unfortunately, the word for gold was very close to the word for six, and thus six minarets were built for the site (later on, when the Moslems at Mecca found out, they demanded that one be torn down; when it was indicated that this was not a possibility, the Sultan sponsored a 7th minaret for Mecca, and it is still the only mosque with 7). On the one side is the funeral porch (I don't know what they call it) - Islam does not permit the entry of dead bodies into the Mosque, so the funerals are held off to one side on the outside. Near there was the door for the foreigners to enter - they of course made us remove our shoes - and we went in. The interior is spacious, although the blue color does not dominate the room. One think the Moslems couldn't figure out is how to support a large dome without having the supports dominate the spacial arrangement on the floor; the pillars supporting the roof are enormous and unmistakeable.
I don't really want to go too much into detail about the BM; I was uneasy when I was in there, and quite relieved when we exited.
Our next stop was Agia Sophia.
I should probably stop right there, for any attempt to use more words to describe the experience is folly. However, this being a journal of my trip, I must continue, so please pardon the inadequacy of the description.
Interesting footnote 2: So the Moslems do have some sort of concept of Holy Water, although the only Holy Water in their tradition comes from Mecca. Sultan Ahmet, in his desire to have this Holy Water available to all his subjects, had tanks built into 2 of the enormous pillars at the Blue Mosque, and send someone to fetch some Holy Water from Mecca. When it arrived, it was mixed in with the water they had put into the pillars, and thus the Mosque had Holy Water fountains in it for all to use.