Friday, April 5, 2013

Almost Done...

 So our 10 days in Istanbul are almost over. I really do wish I had more time here there are still so many things that I need and want to do! Oh well, that just means I will have something to look forward to on my next trip to Istanbul! Well, yesterday we started off the morning with free time and then we took off to Galatasary University (the Turkish version of Harvard) and then we had another fabulous dinner. Today was a free day and we did a multitude of things and then ended the day with a traditional Whirling Dervish performance.
 Yesterday we went to the most gorgeous park! Since it is the tulip festival giant tulips were everywhere. They came in a wide variety of colors, many of which I have never seen. Istanbul is an Olympic City for the 2020 games, so they had the Olympic rings all done up in tulips which was really pretty.I think Istanbul is the perfect city for the games and I really hope they get chosen.
 After that we took of to Galatasary University. The students were much much more conservative then those at Fatih. Galatasary is very hard to get in to and only the very privaliged will actually get in. Galatasary is right on the river and has the most gorgeous view! I can not even imagine going to a school like it.
 Today we shopped and did a whole bunch of random things. After all of that we ended the day with a Whirling Dervish performance. The Whirling Dervish is a very religious performance and interesting to watch. Five men twirled around in circles non-stop for about a whole hour. It was fascinating.
 Well it is our last day and we are spending it on the Asian side of Istanbul! We will go canoeing and then have a barbecue. After that we will go to dinner in a Turkish home! I am really looking forward to talk to some more Turkish people and ask them tons of questions. Hopefully it will be a very successful day!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What a day!

 It has been a jam packed day! I started off the day by going to the Basilica Cistern, the Haggia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and then the Grand Bazaar. We ended the day with an amazing dessert and one of the best views of Istanbul.
 I got up bright and early this morning and headed off to the Basilica Cistern with Ann (the wonderful woman who stayed with me on Sunday). The Cistern was built in 500 A.D. and was basically a giant well for the Sultanhamet part of the city. The pillars that hold it up do not match because they are pillars taken from conquered cities. There are 2 Medusa heads that are said to be there for protection but I really just think that  they needed something to make the pillars taller. There is only about 2 feet of water left in the Cistern now, but tours used to be taken by canoe which I think would be much cooler then walking.
 The water way
 The Medusa Head

 After the Cistern I went to the Haggia Sophia. The Haggia Sophia was built before the Blue Mosque and in my opinion much more impressive. The Haggia Sophia was built in 537 A.D. and has beautiful mosaics all over. The only reason that the mosaics have been preserved that long is because when Istanbul was taken over and converted from Christianity to Islamic the Haggia Sophia was turned into a mosque. Ina mosque no pictures depicting any scene from the bible are allowed, no pictures of anything really, so the mosaics of the different figures of the bible were covered up. The tile put over the mosaics actually help preserve them all this time. My time in the Haggia Sophia was the first time that I ever felt like I was in an actual ancient ruin.
 The ceiling (you can see where some of the mosaics were ruined)
Upstairs (I know. Just turn your head sideways)
 I ended off my morning with another visit to the Blue Mosque (I had to leave the last time). The Blue Mosque was built to show up the Haggia Sophia, but I don't think they really accomplished it. Although the outside looks much bigger, the Blue Mosque is much smaller inside compared to the Haggia Sophia. The Blue Mosque is still a working Mosque so shoes had to be taken off and heads covered. They gave blue scarves to any guy or girl who was wearing anything that did not cover the whole leg. The Blue Mosque was given its name for the blue tile all over.
 The prayer section
The blue tile on every wall
 After the Blue Mosque hours were spent in the Grand Bazaar shopping and we are going back tomorrow morning. Many many gifts were bought, but there are still more to get! 
 After dinner tonight we went to our favorite restaurant for dessert. The people are so nice and brought us free tea and fruit. Turkish people are so hospitable! Well we tried an amazing dessert called Kunefe. It's a cream and cheese pastry that was absolutely delicious. Unfortunately no pictures because it was eaten too fast. However, I did get some blurry pictures of the view we were looking at while eating this awesome dessert.

 It was an amazing ending to an amazing day! Well its early shopping tomorrow and then off to another University! I'm excited to meet some more students! It should be a good day. :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Day 4

 We have been going since 9 this morning and it now 10:30. Our day has been so full! We did get to see so many amazing things though! We started the day off at the Dolmabache Palace, then we went to the Asian side of Istanbul, and then we took a cruise of the Bosphorus River.
 The Dolmabache palace is located on the European side of Istanbul right on the river. It is one of the most gorgeous palaces I have ever seen, second only to Versailles. The Palace is actually modeled after Versailles. Dolmabache was the home of the Sultans after Topkapi (which I saw yesterday) and much more European in it style. Unfortunately pictures are not allowed inside of Dolmabache so I only have pictures of the outside. I bought tons of postcards of the inside though to show everyone when I get home!
 The front
The view from the river

 The ballroom inside is the biggest and most beautiful room I have ever been in. The chandelier in the middle of the room is the biggest crystal chandelier of its kind in the world. The ceilings were painted gorgeously, showing several different scenes. I do not know if I will ever see anything more grand in my life.
 After Dolmabache we took a short ferry ride to the Asian side of Turkey. We had an amazing lunch (which I was finally able to eat!) After lunch we went up the mountain to an amazing view point. It is the best view of Istanbul and it really helps you to grasp how large of a city it is. It is the largest city, land wise, in the whole world. When you look at it from up above it really does seem to go on forever.

We took a tour of the Bosphorus River.Along the riverside there are many palaces and mansions. There are many apartment buildings where the starting cost of a room is 5 million dollars. It was really just a nice break to sit back and enjoy the view of Istanbul from the river.
 An old estate turned into a hotel

 One interesting thing I have learned about Istanbul is that they had the original tulip. Tulips were so valuable in Istanbul that they were worth the same as a house. They were more valuable then any type of gold or silver. Tulips used to be 10 times the size they are now, but with all of the experiments done on them they have reduced in size. So the Turks gave a tulip bulb to the Queen of the Netherlands, a couple hundred years ago. The Queen thought it was an onion so she cooked it. Tulips are not meant to be eaten so obviously it was disgusting and it was thrown out into the yard, where it blossomed into the tulip. Now Holland is the biggest producer of tulips and that is what they are famous for. Right now Istanbul is having its giant tulip festival and the flowers are all over the place! I have never seen so many different types of tulips.

Well now it is off to bed! Everyone gets to sleep in tomorrow... except for me because I have to catch up on all of the things I missed Monday! After that it is shopping at the Grand Bazaar and then a Turkish Bath!

Monday, April 1, 2013


          So I'm finally feeling better! These past couple of days have been rough so I haven't felt like getting on the computer and also I was in bed most of the time and didn't really have much to say. Everyone on this trip is so helpful and I couldn't have picked a better group to go with! Today though I felt much better and was able to get out of bed and actually go and enjoy the wonderful city of Istanbul!
         Our hotel is amazing! It is very small but very nice. It is right in the Sultanhamet part of Istanbul which is the historic part with all of the large mosques. the rooftop has an amazing view of the city. We walk about 4 blocks and we are at the Grand Bazaar, the Haggia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and the Biscilica Cistern, and the biggest Hooka Bar you have ever seen!
 The Grand Bazaar
 The Blue Mosque
 Biggest Hookah Bar Ever
 The Haggia Sophia

         Yesterday the students went to all of those places but I was in bed with food poisoning so I missed out. Fortunately I will get to back later during the week!
          Today started off with a tour of the Topkapi Palace. Topkapi Palace is located right next to the Haggia Sophia right on the Bosphorus River. The palace is giant and it took us a couple of hours to see everything in it! Below is a picture of a model of the palace so maybe you can get a sense of how big it is.

        Afterwards we had a quick lunch (I am still not eating much and therefore had to miss out on what looked like delicious food), and then headed off to Fatih University to meet the students we are working with on out Sociology project. My students are Tuba and Zeynep and they are both wonderful! They answered all of my questions and are just great to be around.

          We all met back up on the coast of Agean Sea and had fresh mussels taken straight out of the sea and then cooked right by it. I knew my stomach wouldn't like it but I had to try them and they were delicious! Next to the mussels were sunflower seeds and the Turkish people love them! I never realized sunflower seeds were anywhere but the U.S. Just a reminder to never make assumptions about other cultures.
          After that we had a nice dinner and now we are back in the hotel all completely wiped out but somehow still sitting here on our computers and phones. Well, just a few more things that I found interesting.
          We had ice cream our first night in Istanbul and we had to play a game for it. The vendor did many "magic" tricks with our ice cream before we were eventually able to snatch it away. It was very entertaining and a lot of fun.

           Also, you will never meet a friendlier people than the Turks! They are the nicest, most caring, (and can I say handsome), human beings I have ever met! When I was sick if anyone ever heard about it they would do whatever they could to make me feel better. I have never met anyone more hospitable and it makes my time here all the better.
          One last thing... the driving here is absolutely ridiculous. The Turkish people are very nice people until they get in a car and you are in their way. They are not afraid to use that horn. Traffic rules do not apply in Turkey, you do whatever you feel like doing to get where you need to go. Who cares if the street says "One Way?" I am going up it anyway. It is very nerve wracking to be in a car in Istanbul.
          Well, that's all for today! Hopefully, I will be able to post again tomorrow. We will be taking a cruise on the Bosphorus River and then visiting the Asian side of Istanbul!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

American Femininity

Femininity was added to our list at out last meeting. This is an example of what American femininity is. This is  a picture of the make up that I put on every morning and then a magazine that many girls read to get tips on beauty and fashion.

Typical American Beverage

This is an example of a typical american beverage. Americans usually drink a lot of soda whether it is Coke, Pepsi, Sprite, or any other of the numerous kinds we have.

Monday, March 25, 2013

American Curse Word

I could not get a picture of anyone saying a curse word but I did hear it. One day I was talking to my friend and she said a curse word not out of anger but to describe something. I don't here a lot of people use curse words because they are angry but usually just to describe something or they just use it casually in everyday conversation.