Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Last Thursday morning, I went to Istanbul with my host family. It was about 8 hours in the car both ways, so we were physically close a lot! On the way there, we planned to stop in Bolu, a place that apparently has a beautiful landscape, to see it, but to also make a stop to not have to go the whole way at once. After a couple hours in the car, my family told me that we were going to stop at Fulya's parent's house in the outskirts of Ankara. Since it was Ramazan Bayrami, the 3 days after Ramadan when it is time to eat, celebrate, and see family, Fulya's whole side of the family was gathered at her parent's house. I met her parents, her 3 siblings and their husbands/wives and children. It was a lot of family for one day! The difficult thing about meeting a Turkish family is that everyone has a different name. There is a different name for my mother's sister, my father's sister, my father's brother's wife, and my mother's brother's wife. Also, there are maternal grandparents and paternal grandparents, but the same people are called both names. It is a bit confusing, but I am getting the hang of it little by little. We ate a lot of food, which was delicious and chatted. One of the aunt's had made baklava and I became excited. I absolutely LOVE baklava and it is my favorite dessert. That being said, I have eaten lots of different kinds of baklava, good and bad, and this was one of the best I have ever had. It was so good that I kept wanting to eat more, but I was so full already! I was already full before the baklava, so I was about to burst!

After passing through Ankara we were headed to Bolu. We stopped a couple times at gas stations without getting out and I assumed the host parents were asking for directions. Turns out I was right because we were lost. We decided that it would be better to just continue on to Istanbul. It would have been great to see, but in my mind I was ready for Istanbul. We spent so much time in the car that at the end we were all going a little crazy. We had already slept a lot so we were wide awake and were singing loudly to the radio, looking outside, taking pictures, and just wanting to get to Istanbul already.

Pide... yummmmmm
When we finally arrived, we got out of the car and headed up to their cousin's apartment. There were stray, skinny cats walking all around the streets, but I guess that is normal. Since it was the holidays, he was at his house in Samsun and we had the 1 bedroom apartment to ourselves. It was around 10 and we hadn't eaten since 2 so we went in search for food. Again we were reminded that it was the holidays because almost everything was closed. After about 45 min of walking around in a circle we finally found a place to eat pide. That night we went right to bed.

The next morning we walked to another cousin's house for a large typical Turkish breakfast. Then we went to a part of the city which is on the European side and parked our car so we could walk around. We walked up and down a main street with many famous high schools and universites. Then we ate Kumpir (a turkish baked potato with everything imaginable on it. After, we went on a boat ride up and down the Bosphorous which was fantastic because we could see Europe and Asia at once. We saw the bridges that connect the two continents, and got to see the old right next to the new. In the late afternoon/evening we drove all around the city. I fell asleep for a while because of all of the traffic and I was exhausted.

on the Bosphorous
Bosphorous with Melis

The next day was my favorite day in Turkey so far. We woke up, had breakfast and went to the European side of the city again, but this time we walked to the ferry where we got on and crossed to the other side. I really wanted to go to a Bazar, and unfortunately they were closed because of the holidays. Luckily, however, we found a series of streets that were basically a street Bazar with everything in them. I just wanted to walk down them and see everything. It was crowded, but very enjoyable. Everything was so cheap, but I didn't buy anything besides food because I didn't see anything I needed. Later that day we went to the Sultan Ahmet and the Hağia Sofia, which were incredible. I had gone to them before when I went to Istanbul on vacation with my family when I was in 8th grade, but I was young then and I had forgotten what they were like. We had walked all day and our feet were killing, but it was definitely worth it.
Sultan Ahmet

Sultan Ahmet
The next day we woke up early, got in the car and rode the whole way home with stopping every once in a while for the bathroom. It was definitely a different experience of traveling because it was unlike traveling with my family, but enjoyable and worth it. I had a lot of fun. :)
Hağia Sofia

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