Friday, September 19, 2014

Flashback: Istanbul, Turkey

This past summer I had the opportunity to perform research at Uludag University, one of Turkey's many amazing institutions.

Accepting this program was one of the best decisions I have made.

The program was almost three months long, and consisted of essentially three parts. First, we were given about a week and a half to immerse ourselves in Turkish culture.  This consisted of a small stay in Istanbul followed by a brief tour of the coast (focusing primarily on Gallipoli and the Troy excavation site).  Next, we travelled to the island of Lesvos, Greece to perform a study on a plant species found there; this lasted about a week.  Last we travelled to Bursa, where we remained for about two and a half months conducting our research projects (with a couple days here and there to explore the city).

Out of all the places we visited, Istanbul was definitely most lively.  The streets were always brimming with people and there were so many places worth visiting.  During my limited time there I managed to explore the Blue Mosque, the Haja Sophia, and made a small trip to the Grand Bazaar.

A view from the balcony of Hotel Turkuaz, you can see a bit of the Blue Mosque in the distance.
The Blue Mosque
Walking into the Blue Mosque
A small courtyard off a side street from the Blue Mosque

The Hajah Sofia

Entrance to the Haja Sophia
Courtyard of the Haja Sophia 

A bath house on one of the side streets from the Haja Sophia

We visited a small cemetery which was over 700 years old, the history behind this city is truly amazing

Some of the pictures may look a little dreary since our first day in Istanbul was overcast and rainy. But the weather perked up the next day and we were blessed with essentially clear skies for the remainder of our stay!

Also since I have yet to invest in a professional camera, it was really difficult to capture indoor pictures like the Grand Bazaar.  I can tell you from personal experience, though, that the Bazaar was sensory overload.

The Bazaar consists of a multitude of vendors selling a wide range of products, from ceramics to clothing to knives, and everything is crammed into a maze of aisles.  People are calling to you from all directions and vendors are trying to get you to purchase their wares.

If you don't know how to haggle before you go, learn.

Everything in the Bazaar will be about three times more expensive than if you were to purchase it off the street.  You have to haggle with the vendors to get it to a reasonable price, which adds to the excitement of the Bazaar itself.

On our last night in the country, a couple of my friends from the program came with me to a little bar we found off a street leading to our hotel.  They had some smoothie specials that we took advantage of to finish off what we had left of our exchanged Lyra.

I can't remember the name of the cafe, but the smoothies were absolutely delicious. We all tried a strawberry one, and then split a tropical fruit one. It was the perfect way to end our stay.

If anyone wants to know more about my stay in Istanbul let me know, I'd be happy to share more of my experience with you.


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