Monday, March 3, 2014

Hagia Sophia

For our Religious Studies course we visited Hagia Sophia, of course, and it was breathtaking.  I don't think I've ever been in such a powerful building before.  My photos don't come close to doing it justice.  The sheer magnitude of the building is something that can only be experienced in person.  When I first walked in I had to stop for a second to take it all in.  You feel so small and it's very apparent that this building is significant and powerful both politically and symbolically.

We also visited the "Little Hagia Sophia" a short ways away, which was a very interesting comparison.  Our professor was saying that historians think that this was a prototype for the actual Hagia Sophia, so it was really cool to see what the progression of thought for this amazing building was, and good to know that all great things take practice!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Kadikoy Excursion

To get to Kadikoy for the rest of the excursion, we got to take the ferry across the bosphorus, which was super fun.  I haven't been to the ocean in a few years, and I really miss it, so I had a blast being out on the water.  On the way over, Zafer had brought us some cornbread and carob from a Northern city for us to try.  The cornbread was a lot different from the U.S.  It was dryer and not nearly as sweet, but it was still good.  The carob was something I had never tired before, but, according to Zafer, a lot of people say that eating it keeps you healthy and your body balanced, and it was pretty good.

Once in Kadikoy, we went to the market, which was bigger and with more variety than any of the other markets I've seen in Istanbul so far.  There was fish, fruits, vegetables, spices, sweets, basically anything you could want.  

This is one of the best coffee places in Istanbul (above)

This is one of the Churches in Kadikoy (above)

After exploring the market, we had lunch at Chia.  They have food with mostly a South Eastern influence, but with a little twist.  All the food was insanely good, and Zafer is friends with the owner, so he came and ate with us.  It was a great excursion, very informative and fun!

Kadikoy Breakfast

We went on an excursion to Kadikoy with our food class and it was amazing.  We started out with breakfast at a small shop run by an Albanian-Greek couple.  Our professor, Zafer, told us that this was one of the last of its kind since nearly all of the Albanians were forced to leave Turkey.  The man's name was Pando, and he couldn't speak any English, and our Turkish vocabulary is still mostly hello, goodbye, thank you, and counting to ten, so we couldn't communicate a whole bunch.  That didn't stop us from trying though.  He came over to our table and shift some plates around to make our eating easier.  Then he picked the salt and pepper shakers (which are shaped like cows) and "moo"ed at us.  We "moo"ed back and it was nice.  Then he went and got a plastic cow that "moo"ed when you pushed a button on its stomach, so we all "moo"ed together some more.  He pointed to a picture of a cow on the wall and we managed to understand that it was his cow.  The food was great.  We were all eating, laughing, and "moo"ing.  It was a great start to the morning.  When we were getting ready to leave, Pando really wanted to take a picture with all of us, with his very nice film camera.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Doner for Days

One of the foods that you can find everywhere here is doner.  It's on practically every corner and usually no more than four or five lira.  It's basically a huge skewer of meat that is roasted and shaved off.  It usually comes in either chicken or beef and can come on bread or a wrap.  It usually has lettuce and tomatoes, but some doner even has french fries.  Basically, it's super delicious.  Maybe I eat it a little more often than I should, but honestly, how could I say no?

Galata Kitchen

Galata Kitchen is a restaurant a few blocks from the Accent center.  I went there for the first time with Sterling for lunch the other day.  The food there is SO good! Everything is home cooked in family sized portions, so you pick out what you want and they dish it up and bring it out to you.  Not that I don't love doner, but it was really nice to have something home cooked and a little more satisfying.  Everything really tasted like love!  And of course Turkish tea to finish!

This is my meal!

 Sterling with his soup


 I also got to sit next to this little guy during lunch! He was excellent company!

And the eating just continued all day.  Deniz, our program director, told us about a fish shop just a few doors down from our apartment.  You get to pick our your own fish, and then they clean it and cook it right there for you.  It was delicious!

Archaeological Museum

One of the really cool aspects of this program, is that there is a lot of experiential learning built into the classes, so we get to explore Istanbul and Turkish life as a part of our classes.  We started off with this right away in our course Byzantion - Constantinople - Istanbul: The City, Its Architecture and Many Religious Faces.  On the very first day of class, we went to the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul with our professor. He was really knowledgeable and was even talking to us about neighborhoods and architecture on the way to the museum.  The museum was very interesting because they have one exhibit that just started because of the construction on the bosphorus.  They're finding decently intact shipwrecks (as intact as a shipwreck can be) from all different eras and they've only just started.  We were also lucky enough to be visiting  during a traveling exhibit The Mosaics of Ravenna.  It was beautiful, and the statues were breathtaking.  Although many of them were a bit eroded from wind and water, the detail and precision is amazing.

These are some pictures from the mosaic exhibit

There were also some really cool modern mosaic pieces

Mieke and Sterling were having a great time!

Tombs and remains