Saturday, March 31, 2012

Istanbul was Constantinople...

Istanbul! What a city. Up until a year ago, students at the Jerusalem Center would spend a week in Egypt, visiting important sites there. However, with the Arab Spring and resulting political uncertainty, the program has been changed, and students now spend a week in Turkey instead. I must say I was fairly disappointed in this change at first. I’ve always wanted to go to Egypt (hasn’t everyone? Mom- no input here :), and especially now that democracy is blooming there. People my age are stating their opinions and making real changes in the government. I find that so exciting. Thus, Turkey seemed only like an afterthought. But, after spending a week there, I have to say: I love Turkey. What an incredible country. And, especially, especially Istanbul.

ISTANBUL! At the airport.
Mercedes-Benz bus... the height of luxury...
We arrived in Istanbul at night, and the next day we spent exploring the city. We visited the Blue Mosque, which was absolutely incredible. We've seen a lot of mosques here, but this one takes the cake. Fun story: most mosques only have two minarets, but the Blue Mosque has six. Sultan Ahmed was 19 when he began construction on it. He wanted it to be bigger and better than all other mosques (some young man testosterone acting up, no doubt), so he wanted six minarets. However the Masjid al-Haram- the main mosque in Mecca- had six minarets itself, so people were reluctant to let Ahmed have six on the Blue Mosque. However, the Masjid got one more minaret, and then the go ahead was given to Ahmed to have his six minarets, and prove his testosterone once and for all. Google search for pictures of the interior... seriously, it's beautiful.
In front of the Blue Mosque -- probably the most gorgeous mosque I've ever seen

Me, Sarah, and Becca inside the Blue Mosque

Then we went to Topkapi Palace, in downtown Istanbul. It's seriously gorgeous. And huge. Oh yeah, and I got to see an 85 carat diamond there. nbd. It overlooked the gorgeous Marmara Sea, which was a bonus.
Looking out over the Sea of Marmara
Some examples of the beautiful tiles, architecture, etc. at the palace
At the palace... Haggia Sophia is technically visible over my right shoulder... if you squint...
We also spent an hour at the world renowned Grand Bazaar, which has over 5000 shops!! Crazy. There was so much to see there.

In the Grand Bazaar!
We ended our incredible day with a boat ride on the Bosphorus. One side of strait was Asia, the other was Europe. Crazy sensation to literally be between two continents. It was one of the most beautiful sceneries I have ever seen, and, coming from Montana, you know that means something.
Sunset from a ferry on the Bosphorus.... so beautiful.
Not the most attractive picture ever, but it comes with a good story. On a boat ride, we figured we had to do a rendition of Lonely Island's "I'm on a Boat." So we did an edited version. And it was great. When I have good internet again (so probably when I'm back in the States), I'll post it.  :) 

1 comment:

  1. "I'm on a boat!!"

    Aunt Joan loved Istanbul, and loved Turkey. She would be very happy to know you went there and loved it too.

    Keep forgetting to tell you how cute my hair was in Las Vegas. It was sooo cute! Lucked out there. Speaking of hair, remember how Annie's would not hold a curl? We hot rollered it for Crazy Hair Day, then teased the heck out of it and it held all day long. Her hair has turned into our hair. :-}

    Dreamt you were home last night. You were so busy on your phone you didn't have time for us, lol. That's OK, you can be busy, as long as I can see that beautiful face.