Saturday, July 25, 2009

last days with the san diegans

all of a sudden, this whirlwind month with ucsd abroad was at a one week countdown! determined to make the most of this last week (despite finals looming over our head), our group set out with a renewed energy to use up our remaining credits on our akbils (metro passes), see more of istanbul, and just live it up!

karaokeing, a day of mad shopping at cevahir, and oh yeah -- i got a haircut. hahah! chinese food for dinner (sooo goooooodddd!!!), and then a night painting the town red on istiklal...all made for some great memories! many of which should not be documented on this blog! hahahaha. here are some that can:

chelsea and i at a nice little cayhane in taksim square with a nice breeze and view of the Bogaz.

Istanbul Modern -- free on thursdays! really enjoyed the room exhibit and the library. after seeing so much of istanbul's 1700 year heritage, the modern art makes for a nice change.

some good times in the hotel before we went dancing around istiklal!

dinner in besiktas, filled with the usual laughter :).

FINALLY we got around to yeni camii. loved it (mentioned this in my last post).

renata at the goodbye dinner. what a cutie patootie.

with yasemin, our coordinator; and rabia, our tour guide

one last shot of the group after a great night on pasazade, our hotel terrace. ataturk bridge in the background. i love this photo because everyone is smiling SO big and so happily! it's been a great month istanbulites, i promise to write!!

some last inside jokes, in case any of the san diegans get around to reading my blog:
"are YOUUUU saved???!
the crusaders were like, "yeah, we bad."
and so the knight and the lord were in the little tower, hunched over dueling.
"do you have a mirror in your pants?"
carline and her pimp mike, working the levent line.
anythign to do with red one.
anything to do with bo and a camera.

k. good times :). miss all of you already and you better keep in touch!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

blue mosque

for all the hype about the blue mosque, i realize that i still don't really know that much about it. 16th century, built across from hagia sophia by the sultan ahmed I and architect mehmet aga. there's a couple of good stories that go along with its founding -- the controversy over where the funds came for it, the number of minarets, etc. if you're interested in these cute little stories, let me know and i'll expound. until then, here are some pictures and thoughts about us @ sultanahmed camii!

all the homies, who i'm missing like madddd already!

the ladiesss:
the blue tiles for which the BLUE mosque is named...

and josh, playing with jonah. i think i've mentioned jonah and renata's love for the great expanses of carpet in mosques. this is cute :).

"quintessential" blue mosque pic?

in quick conclusion, i think the blue mosque is an important visit because its huge, its got a lot of history, and it has become one of the biggest tourist sites in turkey (now the national mosque, i believe??) however, after the beautiful intimacy of atik valide camii (uskudar), and now having experienced the quietude of yeni camii, the blue mosque pales in comparison. tourist hordes, people with essentially no respect for the mosque itself -- women immediately removing the headscarves that the guards just asked them to put on, for example. it didn't feel at all like a place of faith to me, which was really disheartening i think.

well yeah, i guess those are my thoughts about sultanahmed. it was pretty, yes. and a must, just because i've been living in could i NOT go inside? but now that its said and done, i'd be happy to spend all my time in the courtyard in the eve - quiet, calm, tranquil and beautiful.


this post is just going to be full of pictures that i haven't really been able to squeeze in chronologically...just a slew of pics i hope you find worth seeing :)!

a pic of boulderhane, the climbing gym in istanbul that "i climb at." quotes because it happens so rarely.

kahve dunyasi, or "coffee world." i'm a fan of their turk khavesi, pictured here. always served with a chocolate spoon :).

the girls at galata tower, a shot of the golden horn in the background.

chelsea and jeff at galata.

professor herbst doing a little story telling at suleymaniye mosque complex -- our tour guide rabia + some tip got us access into this annex. note jonah and renata taking advantage of the carpet. they love carpet.

the suleymaniye complex is h-u-g-e. this is still part of the complex - it used to be a madresa, and its now a little restaurant (mainly drinks).

where architect mimar sinan is buried. sinan is basically responsible for 1/2 or more of the great monuments in istanbul. the simplicity and modesty of his tomb really took us all by surprise, after seeing all the grand architecture with his name on it in istanbul.

this is a better shot of suleymaniye from the tram home one nice evening.

the blue mosque, from ibrahim pasa's palace (now the museum of turkish and islamic arts).

girls. nice shot of sofia, especially!! hahahah

another shot of sofia, as she worked a charged spanish translation about anti-semitism in turkey. this was an intense afternoon. we visited the neve shalom synagogue, which was bombed in '86, '92, and '03. not only did we have to submit our passports a week in advance, but we went through a heavy security check to get into the synagogue. the caretaker opened the table for questions, and we responded with many about what kind of anti-semitic sentiments exists in istanbul, and our questions were sidelined, quickly. sofia stepped in and tried to translate in spanish (neve shalom is a sephardic jewish synagogue), but it really did not go well.

a couple of lighter ending notes.

josh and a little kitty who literally hopped into his lap at the greek orthodox patriarchate.

renata and i playing our (mutually) favorite game.

okay, and now i'm ALMOST caught up to the present!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

islam and the views

first off, this post is not going to be about my "opinions" about islam...when i say "views" i mean literally, the images that we had the privilege of seeing last sunday at the northeast end of the golden horn. i'm going to talk about our remarkable trip to the eyup district: the ferry ride (we all know how much i love those!), the eyup mosque (one of the holiest sites in islam), and finally, our trek up to pierre loti cafe!

so after a long saturday evening of karaoke in taksim, we set off for besiktas on sunday morning for a rowing competition of sorts. chelsea is an avid crew-er (?). it was cool to see an "athletic" crowd out to as fans and competitors in the city.

after the comp finished up, we set out for eyup mosque, which is one of the holiest sites in islam and THE holiest site in Istanbul. to get there, we took a FERRY! yay! this time we went up the golden horn, which he hadn't done yet. along the way we this killer view of (the valens?) aqueduct.

i just wanted to post this picture to show what our ferries look like!

below is the old galata koprsusu (the ottoman one). past the blue bridge, you can eyup in the upper left part of the pic. you can also see the pierre loti cafe -- its where the trees meet the sand color on the hill. when we finally got to the eyup stop, we just had to follow the throngs of people on the main cadessi -- after a few minutes we reached this fountain...

and we knew it was part of the entrance to eyup camii. this was by, far far far far the most islamic site we have seen in our time here. women in headscarves and full birkas everywhere, we counted almost 10 little boys dressed for circumcisions, and when we entered into the tomb of sultan ayyub (namesake of eyup mosque), the guard made me fix my scarf, which was accidentally showing some skin. this is a big deal! everywhere else we've gone, guards have been really chill about the headscarf dealio. obviously we don't want to abuse the privilege, but they've basically been letting us into mosques (esp in tourist districts) regardless if you are covered correctly or not. it was a real change of pace to get checked at eyup. and the crowds to get into the mausoleum and the mosque were crazzyyyyyyy. i can barely imagine what the hajj would be like...

inside the mausoleum. the body of ayyub sultan -- one of the prophet's closest friends.

women in focused prayer.

in front of the entrance to the women's prayer hall.

while we were in eyup, we made a "quintessential istanbul" stop at the pierre loti cafe. see this nice metro istanbul has built from the seaside up the mountain to pierre loti????

yeah, we didn't get that this was the metro. we thought it was like, some special ride or something. so we just kept walking, just kept walking, and walking up up up up the hill, following the signs for pierre loti. we should've known this trek was ahead of us when we asked for directions and people would just point to the sky. lollll. anyways after a good 25 minute hike, we finally turned into this amazing view of the city:

unfortunately i didn't take a picture of the cafe's seating area...i've really been lagging on picture taking! but this gives you some idea, hopefully, of this spectacular view of the golden horn and istanbul!!!

all in all, it was totally exhausting trip, and totally worth it.