Monday, July 6, 2009

playing catch up

wow, this week has been, as jeff bey described today, relentless. every day we face intellectually rigorous coursework paired with physically exhausting excursions. i find myself drained by the hot istanbul summer, and simultaneously in a constant process of renewal, inspired by the vibrant and rich culture that we're here to discover. as always, i'll share with you the many excursions we've set out on in the past week, and hopefully offer you the right doses of narrative, intellectual exploration, and good spirits :).

the day of my last post (it seems so long ago), we visited justinian's basillica cistern. this massive underground contraption was built in the 5th century to hold enough water for the growing cosmpolitan hub of constantinople. when i think of water tanks, i consider the big blue water tower sort of thing with, say "wichita" plastered on it in black spray paint. justinian, the patron of byzantine imperial power, had instead a monument of well, imperial, proportions built! i wish the pictures could capture how freakin awesome this thing was beautiful and grand and just so unexpected. i knew nothing about the cistern before we walked down the stairs that the istanbul municipality had built for tourists like myself and stumbled into this sight:

not to mention, the underground cistern was a wonderful respite from the onslaught of mediterranean summer heat.

the next day we ventured onto the bosphorous. this was the trip i'd been waiting for!!!! the bosphorous strait is THE passageway between europe and asia, one of the most desired trade routes, military strongholds, commerical and cultural epicenters of the past 2 millennia. my stomach had been queasy for the past couple of days, but i had seriously been counting down the days until this cruise and nothing was going to stop me. the picture below is of dohlmabahce palace, which is right next to where our ferry departed. holy crap this palace was impresive -- what's pictured below is just one of its many wings.

to see istanbul from the bogazici exceded all expectations (a common theme of this trip!). not only did we get glance at some of the truly ritzy parts of the city (the galatasaray floating island, par example!) but we also got to see my school for the fall!!! bogazici university is situated just behind the rumeli hisari (the rumeli castle). you can see its buildlings here behind the castle fortifications:

when we got back onto land, we had the passageway to the black sea in sight and i was excited to appease my hunger after a few days of fasting (i was trying to settle my stomach). however, this backfired immediately and i was in the worst stomach pain thus far within minutes. i started sweating like mad, i lost feeling in my hands and legs, my vision blurred, hearing faded and i knew i was about to pass out. i desperately gestured for my roommate grace, and she and professor herbst came essentially to my rescue. i was carried down the stairs and knocked out in the bus...eventually we made our way to the private turkish acil (emergency department of a hospital) near professor herbst's residence, and i was treated for food poisoning. my doctor was extremely helpful, especially considering my vast array of allergies to antibiotics. my mom was literally on the phone with him and our coordinator/translator yasemin trying to determine which medicines i could take. considering my current state of superb health, all their efforts seemed fruitful!

and here i must thank jeff, josh and grace for stickin it out with me at the hospital despite all the reading that we had to do. and thanks josh for fireman lifting me up the stairs to the galata residence and the hospital. (oh and hey, shoutout to the entire turkish republic who probably got a great view of my ass on the ONE DAY i decided to wear a dress. good call, me).

well, as this blog post title suggests, i really am playing catch up with everything in turkey right now: keeping you updated on my blog, my reading, my sleep, etc. so for now i'm going to just have to resign myself to an incomplete post, and get some rest for tomorrow's debate over the role of the ghazi in the ottoman empire! i leave you with this message from the grand bazaar:

goodnight from istanbul :).

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