Turkey (a quick look)European Union, Summer 2012
As the time for me to leave draws near I am forced to speed up the blogging process, due to lack of internet access for my phone I was unable to upload pictures until now so I hope they were well worth the wait…
Day 1- Didn’t sleep last night, I just wrote my paper. Well one of my papers. I have four in total; 2 page book report, 2-3 page report on Turkey, 5-7 page trip reflection on BiH and a 8-10 research paper on BiH. I’ll get them done eventually. Then I finished packing. Fortunately I was able to fit everything into my dufflebag and bookbag so I won’t look too out of place. Around 11 or so I lay down to rest for a bit then head to Mensa. Chris has friends over, their English is good. He says parents are coming so I say I won’t be too long so I can get back in time to meet them, Frauke invites me to join breakfast, I politely decline and head to Mensa as i walk out the door I run into his parents, quick chat not very much English, i wish i knew more German, oh well off to Mensa, back to room, nap, then make nutella and jelly sandwiches for dinner, to train station, Batu already there, Alex is late then goes to get coffee, on train, reserved seats cost extra, Batu and Sam sing along, then we get off the train and Sarah almost forgets her bookbag. After our last journey I don’t want to leave a place until I have thoroughly checked that I have all of my belongings with me. But traveling with this Karin is a lot more relaxed than our last journey. We get off one train then leisurely walk to the next destination. Its nice. then the plane ride, most of the passengers are Turkish, cool info video with toddlers doing the emergency demonstration, we land an get visas, then get our bags, school bus driver waiting for us, Batu recognizes him, we ride to the school, check in and get key cards, nice dorms, double rooms with bathrooms but we each get a room to ourselves, call it a night early.
Day 2- wake up at 7 hello Sun. then fall back to sleep till 10, good rest, get dressed and head downstairs around 10:15 we’re having breakfast at a fancy restaurant at 10:30, I still have to get money, see Batu..merhaba, günaydın (hello, good morning). Then we wait for others, we are joined by professors Işik and Alexander, head outside and welcomed by the cicadas, head to university center to meet with President and take picture, try to get money from ATM but doesn’t work, I call bank but no answer cuz its only 5am there, I’ll call around 13:00 it should be 6am, head to restaurant, strange birds, then restaurant, they bring out a bunch of food and if we don’t like then we order food, Turkish ppl eat alot of small things for breakfast, nationalism I can see three red star and moon flags from here, Işik talks and explains plans for tonight dinner and tomorrow beach party, her Prada frames, exquisite scarf, vibrant rectangles of tropical colors mango teal soft blue hot pink, short hair just above shoulder length with an assortment of brown, light brown and blonde resembles lightning streaks in a nighttime thunderstorm, here comes the food; cherry cream cheese, olives, raspberry jam, honey… Then it got crazy… soo much food. Turkish breakfast consist of bread cheese and olive, Işik orders a traditional dish for us to eat, ton of food Alexander and I eat slow, then waiters remove all food, time for Turkish coffee, its small with water with floating piece of lemon and black raisin at the bottom, some raki (the traditional alcoholic drink of Turkey) is made of black raisin, to tell fortune with coffee, put plate on top and swirl and make a wish then flip, then wait, when it is cold have someone remove and tell your future, Işik tells Alex’s future, then bring fruit plates, band comes back by in car with the top back celebrating manhood (a boys circumcision; doesn’t come until around 7 or 8 years), after we eat the fruit we leave, nice place, then tour the school classrooms, cafeteria, art institute, offices, back to snack bar buy card to buy snack, then ATM international doesn’t work but local ATM works (thanks Sarah), then get breakfast cards and wait on bus, museum house of wife of Attaturk, Latife; Usakizade Muammer Bey is fathers name, belongs to rich family of tradesmen of carpets, well educated, great personality, then we go to mosque, we have to past shops, so far Izmir is an upgrade from BiH, when arrive at the mosque we take off shoes, women upstairs men downstairs, I see 5 men but two are sleep (that’s normal), gold chandeliers, jade navy paint crimson curtains, afterwards we stop for drinks, then walk around, girls ask Alex and me to hold poster of Justin Bieber poster and they take pictures for their photo petition to get Bieber to come to Izmir,after a city tour we go to fancy seaside restaurant for dinner, Alex doesn’t join, same style as breakfast but 4 courses; cold starters, warm, main, dessert; so many cold starters, then warm starters came one at a time, then fish main course was a little disappointing because not as good as starters, dessert was fruit and one sweet cake, 45 Liras, 50 with drink which is about $30 not bad since one of the fancier restaurants, then back, shower, use WiFi with girls downstairs, Sam goes up, Sarah Skypes her mom, shoutout to Sarah’s Mom, I surf meme sites instead of blogging or doing classwork, typical… then head to bed.
Day 3- wake up later than expected, Batu knocks on door with friend Inanç, meet at 9:30 for breakfast, since summer school hasn’t started we’re only ones at the school cafeteria for breakfast besides workers, not what I usually eat but good enough, delicious actually, then get coffee, Alex forgets sunscreen then heads back but finds it in his bag, Sam forgets towel takes forever, then on the bus, rap for Batu and Inanç, stop to get Alex swim trunks, he forget his, Sarah goes to ATM I don’t because you can’t spend what you don’t have, fish market, pass crowded beach, we get to private beach and its closed, turn around, 2 options: 1. Cheap public beach wooden chairs and crowded 2. Expensive private beach $25, Karen pays yay, get out and meet Albanians, Romanians Peruvian a little bit of everything, all been to the US and have great English, we get in get our tickets, girls go to spot in the sun, guys stay in shade and relax. A series of water (try to teach me to float) shower, shade for guys or tan for the girls then drinks, then another series, lunch, the another series, Alex gets hot and lays down, another series, talk with Tracie human rights professor from stanford but Sam starts burning, Alexander leaves we have 2 options meet with him for dinner in 2hrs or go to mall with Batu later, option 2, another series then head out, back to dorm, then shower and try to record beach song but too much feedback, then head out, walk for 10 mins past cats, meet with Inanç then to mall stop at baydöner for dinner, share shredded mini wheat dessert, Alex goes home, Sarah talks taxi to fit 5 for 4 Lira, Batu says cop will judge us if we get caught, taxi drives wrong way on one way street, we pass wedding parties bumping, classy wedding but Batu says will get like others after Raki its only 22:00, we walk past a cop at bus stop judging us, walk past traditional dancers heading to wedding remind me we’re in EurAsia, sit in bean bags by the seaside smoking waterpipe and drinking Efes tower, Birave (beer giver), walk around get cotton candy, play with Sam’s bookbag, walk, carnival games like shooting balloon on water, corn, light up toys, Sam realizes her bag is open but everything is in it, we walk back, take mini bus, green, crowded standing room only. You pay after you get on like Germany, honor code, I would cheat if I were local, get back Batu goes to Inanç house, we go back can’t get in with keycards so attendant buzzes us in, elevator like Willy Wonka, then back to rooms.
Day 4- Wake up, hard to get out of bed, get to breakfast by 8:08 no sign of workers, same plate as yesterday but no bread, Karen arrives and goes to back kitchen and ask for coffee but gets bread, we eat, good enough, I realize how much I like bread butter and honey, then go upstairs, Isik brings us pastries on the bus to Ephesus, nap, Karin pays I hope IES is reimbursing her, tour guide history lesson built 3000 BC, established by Amazons fighting on horse women killed all male babies and lesbians, cross which was Greek word for fish, symbol for holy trinity, used to be marsh means mosquitos means malaria means death, Nike goddess of victory sister was tiki or fortuna, library had secret tunnel to brothel house for prostitutes, collesum with bloodway not waterway, rest, guide Karin and Isik get bil and water, we watch catfight, indoor museum of rich homes, then back to bus, virgin marts house, nun had a vision drew picture they found it, no pictures, ppl praying as if pilgrimage, take pictures, drink holy water, tissues and notes, back on bus, me and Sam and Isik virgin Mary statue, then old Greek village of Sirince, lunch, Zuchini flower, domas, tavuk sis (chicken shiskabob), walk around, Alex buys wine, Me and Sarah take picture “he doesn’t drink”, wait for bus, scary downhill ride, free car wash to cool the cars, get back relax, Sarah starts her BiH trip reflection, then to local restaurant Batu translates and helps order then goes to visit fam, hope all goes well, we get traditional dishes, he writes on papers, we head back to the rooms after dinner.
Day 5- Wake up, breakfast same just in the other room, more ppl join us, bugs and cats, Alex keeps feeding them, then class, during class Isik keeps my attention by walking, afterwards we setup computers, then lunch, another one of Batu’s friends takes us, a lot of commotion because visiting high schoolers, good lunch, assembly line style, then back to class, chill on computers, girl flips out, I don’t need to understand language to know when a woman is upset, workshop didn’t get names, but 1st speaker good but boring, 2nd long football reference, diagrams, 3rd funny, enthusiasm, diagrams, made time limit, 2 questions and out, back to room, wash clothes in sink, downstairs on Wifi, heard gunshot?, then head downtown with Sam, Sarah and Karin who knows most Turkish and bus, kinda dirty old but cheap, buy tickets in groups of three 13Liras for 6, hot long ride to the downtown area, walk around, stop at a restaurant Meyhane Alsancak where used to be all you can drink, we’re the only ones here, order sampler plate for 15 Lira, old guy selling mussels walks by, we buy 20, after dinner we head back to the rooms, good night.
Day 6- Wake up, breakfast, class Terry and John Stanford professors joins us, they ask so many questions it seems like they’re students and we’re on vacation, then break, lunch, then second session only 2 speakers, quick then nap wake up to Sarah talking, head to dinner, fancy restaurant across the street, toast, cold appetizers, then salad, gets hot then Isik asks for fan, couple moved near the window, it is really hot, fruit dessert then head downtown to seaside restaurant get Birave beer tower and Nagila water pipe or hooka.
Day 7- Wake up, a little earlier, pack so I’ll be ready later, breakfast, Alex thought we were going to leave so he brought down his suitcase. Then breakfast, same, Alex forgets his ticket so Sarah gives hers, lady says someone forgot to pay, we assume Alex he said he left it on the counter and she probably overlooked it, I give mine. Then time to go, I grab a to go plate so I can finish my bread, then we head to Nato, short ride, maybe 40 mins, they take our phones, we talk to soldiers, Turkish soldiers look to be fresh out of high school probably because conscription, most are American, then tour and Turkish Coffee, then back for lunch, then work on book report finish packing and go, Isik brings more Burek for the trip to Istanbul, when we get in immediate security check, keep water, then line, 30 or so dressed in white robes and towels headed to Jeddah probably Hajj to Mecca, plane ride, I sleep entire way, get off and say Yak Shamlar to attendants, Batman lands, get luggage, girls go to the restroom again, subway long ride, not as nice as Germany but better than Sarajevo, hotel like wild goose chase get help from 3 different ppl, then finally find it, less than a minute walk from tram, rooms small, girls double bed, roof terrace, WiFi, I fall and scrape finger on wall, then head out to traditional restaurant, all tourist come here, its on second floor, kitchen up here, then walk around, head back to rooms and call it a night.
Day 8- Wake up, shower, Turkish breakfast on roof (by Turkish I mean tomatoes, cucumber, various cheeses, boiled eggs, bread, assorted jams and preserves, and fresh fruit but yet not always ripe fruit), Alex leaves laptop, comes back says hands were full, he forgot it, then walk to tram, Karin scans us in, then on to a restaurant meet with Mr. Ekrem Güzeldere a half German half Turkish man working with Kurdish minority, knows several languages at least conversationally, shops but jewelry, bakery, Armenian newspapers NGO, rush to tram, crammed, 20 mins for lunch, stop nearby for Yufka good flavors but no sauce, healthy option, rush, tour with Tahir, start at Hagia Sophia temple used to be Christian church then Mosque now museum, plastered mosiacs, next indoor museum with pond and fish, throw silver coins in the water to purify now we wish, fish are to check quality of water if they live then drink, Batu gets pooped on, chariot races around Egyptian tower, Kaiser Wilhelm, End back to room, take 30 minutes to walk a distance that’s 200m max but lost several times, shower, relax head out, take note off sights, take tram, token, crowded again, then get off, walk to shore take perfect picture and walk for another hour, ask guy for directions he points the way we just walked but Batu insists that he said continue for 5 minutes and we’ll see it, stop at restaurant no menus so go to another, great dinner then find a rooftop bar, chill, 3 beers, a wine and nothing for me, at 10:30 call to prayer despite drinking music stops ppl respect the religious practice, afterwards we head to the room.
Day 9- Wake up late, quick shower then breakfast, despite being the last to breakfast and the slowest eater I still end up downstairs ready to leave before anyone else. After breakfast they all go to the rooms and to get their bags, water, etc. We head out, Karin takes a picture of us in front of the hotel/hostel… Its probably as awkward as all our other photos, we’ll see. We head to the tram. We get off at the last stop. Then get on another. Get off at the first stop. Then another, get off after four stops. If you were to ask me where I am right now, I would say Istanbul, hopefully, Batu and Karin ask directions, he doesn’t know, we find it and wait on Isik, metal detectors don’t work, elevator beeps too heavy it says max 8 but it’s only 7 of us, I guess Turks are small, pastry on table, very knowledgeable, Turkish tea x3, gift bag with novel about turkey, walk through mall, split up for lunch, eat Kokoreç grilled sheep’s intestines, meeting with Fikret long winded but poverty is interesting topic, back to room nap, head out around 8:40 cannon goes off Ramadan just started, stands with soup for poor, went to restaurant by Tram stop, guy from lunch remembered Batu, go downtown, street perform duo with a drum and violin follow us singing “I love you Michael”, maybe I look like Michael Jordan or that’s the only American name he can think of, wander around for the rest of the night, Greenpeace guy comes up to us, after a few drinks we head back to the room, a good last night…
Day 10- Hard to wake up, late night. Girls make it to breakfast, 2nd tour with Tahir, blue mosque aka sultanamet, take off shoes, girls get skirt and shoulder covering, 3rd in just over 3,000 mosques in Istanbul, 80,000 in Turkey, Topkapi palace, administrative palace for meetings, 3 courtyards, imperial council hall restoration, clock gallery and weaponry hall no pictures, 5,000 ppl lived in palace 400 cooks and Sultan ate alone, afterwards we go to the Grand Bazaar and shop. Haggling once again is tough work but I managed to get out with a few scarves and key chains for friends and family. Then back to the room, instantly nap. Sarah and I run to the small bazaar near our house and get a few more things. Around 5:30 we all head to the tram for our farewell dinner. We take the tram to the main station then wait for a ferry. The ferry rides are part of the public transportation and Isik uses her pass to get us in. They pay for so much when it comes to our transportation. I guess that’s why the program is so expensive. The boat ride is a nice smooth ride. There are several islands in the area. Most if not all of the islands used to be Greek territory. The orthodox churches indicate that Turkish citizens with Greek ancestry populate the island. When we arrive on our island we notice that there are no cars, with the exception of an ambulance, only horses drawn carriages. The smell of active horses and fish does not mix well but nonetheless the island is still a beautiful one. Karin, Batu, Sam and Sarah get on the first one, Isik, Alex and I take the second one. Wonderful dinner, cold starters then warm starter then fish main course and fruit dessert. Afterwards we head back to the hotel and pack for our early flight back to Freiburg. Overall I would say this has been a pretty good trip, nice combination of work and play…
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