Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Now It's Istanbul, not Constantinople

Istanbul sunset




Turkey is definitely one of my favorites places on this planet! We flew in on Sunday night and drove to our hotel.  I drank in the city as we drove to our hotel.  The buildings are so colorful and the people of this city are simply amazing.  After we got to our hotel we were fed one of the most delicious dinners I have ever had.  We enjoyed four courses of delectable Turkish food.  There were a few sauces that I decided were too weird to eat, but I did try everything.

My roommates and I got along so well! We were attacked by our shower the first morning.  I don't know what it is about Turkish showers, but they did not like us.  We spent the rest of the day touring Istanbul.  We began the day at Topkapi Palace, where the sultans of the Ottoman Empire resided. The rooms were full of opulent clothing and dazzling jewels.  I was a little confused by their clothes: the sleeves were waaay longer than necessary. I'm sure that it was super comfortable during the long Turkish summers.
Blue Mosque

After the palace, we crossed the street and saw the Blue Mosque.  It was so interesting to see the inside of the mosque.  It was huge! I have never felt so small in my entire life. It took about 8 or 9 of us to circle one of the columns and I had to look straight up to see the ceiling. The tiling was incredible.  The colors were so vibrant and just beautiful.  Noon prayers had just ended and there were some stragglers who were still praying.  It was interesting to see such a different religion in practice. Even with all the tourists looking in, these devout men continued on as if it were only them and God.

Istanbul, Europe side
From the mosque, the group headed to the biggest bazaar in Istanbul.  There were over 4,000 shops selling everything imaginable.  Sadly, we only had twenty minutes here so I was not able to buy very much. In order to get to the restaurant we were eating dinner in, we took a boat down the Bosphorus. This is the best way ever to see Istanbul! We could see Asia and Europe from opposite sides of the ship.  I was in awe the entire trip.  I feel so blessed everyday when I think where I am.

My Turkish Delight :)
Dinner the first night was an interesting experience.  We went to this little restaurant that served fish and I am not a fan of seafood at all.  I would rather go hungry than eat fish.  I decided that I would try it.  It was not as bad as I thought, but I couldn't choke down all of it.  My sense of adventure is weaker at the end of the day.  Luckily, our tour guide offered to take us to get baklava. Baklava is the most delicious dessert I have ever tried!! It this pastry/honey/pistachio goodness :) I don't know how else to describe it, but it saved me from going to bed hungry in Istanbul!

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