Two weeks ago, right after I finished taking my exams for Art History and Food and Culture and had attempted to take my Cultural Anthropology exam, I headed off to Istanbul, Turkey for four days. Turkey was absolutely wonderful, and was much more Western and American than I had expected.
One of the first things we did was get a Turkish coffee, which is like drinking mud, and remember NOT to stir your coffee otherwise you'll be drinking coffee grounds, and a kebab. And of course after the infamous scene from the Chronicles of Narnia, in which Edmund devours Turkish Delight, it was necessary to indulge as well.
There is a lot of street food being sold which is all delicious, bagel-like rolls, honey drenched churros, roasted corn, taffy, nuts, tabacco, freshly squeezed pomegranate and orange juice...
Istanbul is also crawling with cats. There are cats everywhere. Some of them are adorable, others are missing eyes and clumps of fur from cat fights.
We stopped in various mosques and also went into the Hagia Sofia, which was first an Orthodox Patriarchal Basilica (350-1453) and then a mosque (1453-1931) and now it serves as a museum. It's gorgeous and incredibly interesting as you clearly see signs of both religions- the Madonna right next to Qu'ran scripture. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque) is across from Hagia Sofia and is said to have been built to be bigger, and more beautiful than Hagia Sofia which had been the largest Mosque in the Ottoman Empire. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque was criticized for having 6 minarets, which was the same number of minarets in Mecca, so the sultan resolved the problem by ordering a 7th minaret at Mecca.
And of course we stopped at the spice market and got all sorts of dried fruit, teas, spices, coffee, and candies.