After leaving Istanbul, we stopped in Iznik for lunch and a short tour. We walked through the Hagia Sofia (of which there are several, but this one had been destroyed and partially restored), which has a long history as an Orthodox church that was converted to a mosque. The first building was destroyed and another built in its place, but our guide explained the history of the original building: important ecumenical councils for deciding the future of Christianity were held when the city of Iznik was Nicaea, and we were able to walk past the seats of saints who listened in on the council’s deliberations.
Iznik is also very well known for its ceramic tiles. Our guide showed us a few shops, where people were working to make ceramic pots and tiles and paint the beautiful designs on them. I had the chance to throw at the pottery wheel, which was very exciting (although my pants are now somewhat muddy).
Because we had to sit on the bus for many hours, people dressed more casually than normal. This translated into soccer jersey day, apparently, as a few people in the group sported their favorite Turkish soccer team’s jersey. Although I haven’t 100% dedicated my life to Galata Saray, I bought the jersey for a few lira in Istanbul and decided to test it out. Literally, in the first ten minutes of leaving my hotel room in Istanbul, about 10 people made comments about my shirt and how wonderful Galata Saray is and how they are the champions. This made Christian, who is a Beşiktaş fan, very jealous, which led to this fight on the street.