I’ve done more in the last couple of weeks than the majority of my travels this year. So I decided to be a little lazy and throw some of the random activities into one blog post for those of you who enjoy posts with little flow. 🙂
My Turkish family recommended I go into the Museum of Archeology. To be honest, I kind of went to the museum simply to please them. No offense to America, but our archeology museums tend to be FULL of arrowheads, pottery pieces, feathers, and perhaps a weapon here and there. I was SHOCKED to walk in and see rows and rows of sarcophagi in the museum. What blew me away even more was that they weren’t covered in glass! They were standing in the open for me to examine closely. Even saw some mummies incased in glass from thousands of years before Christ! My little historian’s heart was in heaven!
I don’t know why, but my travels seem to take me to harems or brothels. From China to Germany to India and now Istanbul, I’ve toured quite a few. 🙂 These were, by far, the most exotic and luxurious harems I have ever seen. Located in the Sultan’s palace, the walls were COVERED in hand painted tiles that went on for ages. Rooms and rooms were coated in carpets, couches and elegant decor. The ceilings were perhaps my favorite part because of the untouched details.
[A funny side note: I TOTALLY got lost in the harem and couldn’t find my Turkish family who were waiting outside wondering where I’d gone… Eventually, they found me wondering around one of the many courtyards. 🙂 ]
3. Moses’ Staff and David’s Sword
It was pretty cool to go into some of the palace and see some religious relics. I was able to see Moses’ staff that divided the Red Sea, King David’s sword, and a myriad of relics from Muhammad. Whether they are legitimate or not, the point was they have been passed down from generation to generation for quite some time and were exciting to look at.
4. Underground Labyrinths
Before I try to explain these, let me just show you a picture:
This is Istanbul’s Basilica Cistern: huge underground caves/aqueducts where water was kept and filtered for the entire city. It was built around the year 500 AD by 7000+ slaves of the Byzantine empire. It was SO cool and all I could think was that I wanted my family there with me to take it all in! 🙂
5. The Christian-Muslim-Cathedral-Mosque
Built as a Eastern Orthodox cathedral in 537, the Hagia Sofia was then converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral and then to a mosque. As a result, there are Eastern Orthodox paintings of Mary and Christ next to Muslim calligraphy! Where else can you see something like that? I LOVED IT!
Also, there was a place where you can get good luck or blessings by seeing how far you can twist your thumb in a hole in the wall. My Turkish siblings and I did it together. 🙂
6. Swimming in the Aegean Sea
A week or so ago I woke up, found out we were going on a drive, grabbed my camera and a swimsuit, and 3+ hours later found myself on the Turkey/Greece border. Haha, maybe they spoke in Turkish rather than English when they let me know exactly how long this trip would be. 🙂 I just went with the flow and took lots of pictures in the meantime 😉 It ended up being a GREAT trip. They have a farm there and so we stopped by to check on their new calves. Then we made our way to the Aegean where I swam in the beautiful salty, turquoise/teal sea. The sunset was incredible.
7. Dancing in the Streets
After Ramadan there is a 3-day holiday or Bayram. On one of these days I walked to the bank, met a Deaf Turkish family, and also watched a huge group of people join hands and begin dancing in the street. Everyone is so happy for the holiday and it was awesome to watch people who didn’t know each other previously join the circle and dance, clap, and laugh together. My friend Melissa got this great video below while we stood in the crowd and watched: