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  • 27 years old
  • From Washington, United States
  • Currently in Florida, United States

May 9th 2012

2nd Day in Turkey

May 9th 2012

Turkey Istanbul, Turkey  |  May 17, 2012
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Turkey 2012

Log Entry May 9th 2012

Amanda Suter

Spring 2012

Istanbul, Turkey

May 9th 2012

          Our day began at about 7:30 am with a hotel breakfast being first on our list. The breakfast had much variety and tasted good in some respects, but for the most part, my tastebuds still need to get used to some of the food. One cultural difference at breakfast I noticed was that they served more vegetables such as cucumbers and tomatoes rather than fruit like in the U.S. After breakfast, we met up with our driver and tour guide and were transported a portion of Istanbul which included many mosques, museums, and shops. Our group first listened to many history lessons our tour guide, Delik, had to teach us about the monuments we were viewing and the overall Turkish involvement with the Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. After viewing the monuments and learning much about the Muslim customs and overall religion we entered the first mosque, 'the Blue Mosque'. Before entering, we were required to take off our shoes, and ladies not wearing long sleeves or showing their legs of any kind had to put on a provided shawl. This mosque was very large, detailed in design, and it was an overall very educational experience. One thing I found very interesting was the significance of the minarets, or tall pointed structures outside the mosque where individuals used to climb in order to call prayer five times a day. This 'Blue Mosque' is the only mosque in Turkey with six minarets because this is what Sultan  Ahmed I wanted.

          Delik, our tour guide talked about the Muslim religion in a much different way than was my viewpoint prior to this trip. Before this trip, I viewed the Muslim religion as a cruel, strict religion, but the more I learn of it, the more I realize it is a religion of choice and one's relationship with God, not necessarily the requirement of practicing every rule set in place. Next, we went to a place that used to be a practicing christian church, then was converted to a mosque, and is now a museum. I found this very interesting as if it were a symbol of how Turkey is very much caught in the middle of two worlds; the western and the eastern ways of life. This prior practicing church and mosque was called Hagia Sophia Museum. After this museum, we had a very long lunch at an up-scale restaurant. The food was expensive, but very good. At every meal thus far, there has been a bread or appetizer portion, the main meal, and always dessert. The Turks definitely know how to eat; all three meals are plentiful and always serve a variety including lots of meat, vegetables, rice and bread. We then walked off our lunch by exploring another very culturally enriched museum.

          We then made our way to the last museum of the day; Topkapi Palace. This was the palace and courtyards of Sultan Mehmet II when he ruled throughout the Ottoman Empire.

At this palace, there were many exhibits of the guards armor and weapons, the Ottoman rulers robes and jewelry as well as their decorated dinnerware and other various exquisite things. My favorite part of this museum was having the chance to see the third largest diamond in the world. This diamond was an 84-karat wonder and was nicknamed the 'spoon diamond' because, story has it, some trader in the markets traded this diamond, not knowing its worth, for two spoons and then it  was eventually was given  to the Sultan as a gift. At the Topkapi Palace, there were extravagant courtyards and multiple buildings where important matters could be discussed by parliament throughout the Ottoman Empire. Finally, at the end of the day, we made our way back home, had a delicious welcome dinner, and shopped at various stores close to our hotel before heading in for the night.

Answers to previous goals:

1.   women who wear the scarves to cover their whole faces are generally tourists and  women are generally not as conservative in Turkey.

2.   Still working on pronouncing "Thank you" (tesekkur ederim).

Goals for tomorrow:

1. Better understand the role of their prime minister and how he/she is elected and what the ruling terms consist of. I found out today the prime minister must be a minimum of 40 years of age to rule and women are allowed to rule. In fact, one female has ruled in the past as well.  

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  • May 9th 2012

    May 17, 2012
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