For Kurban Bayrami, the biggest Muslim holiday of the year (kind of like Christmas for Christians), 5 friends (Hanane form Norway, Yao Sheng and Ee Lin from Singapore, Rumeysa from Holland, and Kiran from the US) and I are traveling around the Southern Aegean and Western Mediterranean region of Turkey.  We started with bus tickets to our first destination and plane tickets home from our final destination, but with no real plan for in between.  This is a lot different than my normal habits of planning everything.  We also booked a hostel for the first two nights of our trip in Selçuk.  Selçuk is located just 10 minutes away from Ephesus, one of the best ruins in Turkey.

We started our trip by taking an overnight bus to Izmir, the third largest town in Turkey. After some miscommunications with part of our group that traveled on a bus that left one hour earlier, we met at the Otogar and ate menemen for breakfast. This is becoming my favorite breakfast dish.  It is egg cooked with chopped tomatoes and peppers. Kind of like a watery omelet. You eat it with fresh bread which is always delicious.  After a relaxing breakfast, we took a dolmuş to Selçuk where we found our hostel.  This place was recommended ın our Lonely Planet guıdebook and was defınıtely worth the small price we paid. My only complaint was that breakfast wasn’t included with our rooms. My throat and allergies acted up a bit because of the dust, but I had to keep reminding myself that we only paid about $13 per night.  Other members of our group weren’t as happy with the accommodations because the room was quite chilly when we arrived, but I kept reminding them that at least we had our own bathroom and weren’t staying in the dorm style rooms that the hostel offered. 


Hanane, Kiran, Ee Lin, Yao Sheng, and Rumeysa


Our four person room.


The hostel where we stayed. There were many hotels and hostels around the area that had Australian and New Zealand names. Not sure why.

For the rest of the day we wandered around the sites in Selçuk and saw St. John’s Basilica where he is buried, a really old mosque, the remains of the Byzantine aqueduct, an old cistern, the Efes (Ephesus in English) museum. We also ate some some really great food because meals are always the highlight of our day with my friends and me. We went to lunch at a place recommended by our hostel where we met the really nice owner named Mehmet. He ended up helping us figure out the bus and train schedules so that we didn’t get ripped off at either place as well. Hanane and I shared gözleme which is called a Turkish pancake. It’s actually nothing like a pancake, but is more similar to a thin large quesadilla and is really delicious. It is filled with cheese (either white or yellow cheese) and sometimes potato and spinach. Ours was all three and it was DELICIOUS! Tavuk şış (Chicken shish kebab) is also quite popular with our group.


Our lunch group. Two girls staying at the hostel joined us for the day.


Some of the ruins at St. John’s Basilica. The guidebook said that most of the ruins here are reconstructed, but I still thought they were awesome.


For dinner we went to a restaurant recommended by Lonely Planet. Everyone except Yao Sheng ordered tavuk şış which was good, but the mezes that we ordered were fantastic! Mezes are like appetizers, but are much smaller than their US counterparts. Some are hot and some are cold, and they include many very traditional Turkish items. We had haydari(thick yogurt with garlic and roasted eggplant), dolma peppers (stuffed peppers), cheese filled mushrooms, sigara böreği (fried dough with cheese in the middle in a cigar shape) and normal dolma (stuffed grape leaves). I especially liked the mushrooms and garlicy yogurt. After dinner we found a Turkish delight store that was much more reasonable than places in Istanbul and bought some lokum to take back to the hostel with us.


The stuffed mushrooms Smile


Sigara böreği, haydari, and dolma beber(pepper).


Really good lokum from the store. It had nutella inside Smile

The next day we headed to Ephesus with help from Mehmet. His brother owned a big van and agreed to take all 8 (including the girls from the hostel) of us to the Virgin Mary’s House and Ephesus for 5TL per person. Considering that we would have had to take 2 taksis (taxis) for 50TL each to get to the Virgin Mary’s house, this was a superb deal. We got to see the house site, and the chapel at the Virgin Mary’s house site and then went to Ephesus.


The house site


Outside the chapel.


Candles outside the church and the prayer wall. People write prayers on tissues handkerchiefs and pieces of paper and tie them on the wall.


After seeing Mary’s house we were taken to Ephesus. I didn’t really know what to expect, except that some of my other friends from the exchange said it was pretty cool. We were dropped off at one end and were told to call our driver when we finished at the other end several hours later. This was a great option because we weren’t rushed and took a TON of pictures through the whole site. Here are some of the best pics of the day:


As you walk in it doesn’t look that impressive, but as you keep going, it is AMAZING!


Showing some Phi Rho Love in Ephesus 🙂


The columns


We experimented a lot with the pictures 🙂


The smaller of the two theaters


Kiran with Hanane, Yao Sheng and Ee Lin in the background.


I like arches and ceilings, and theaters…. and architecture in general.




Me with another arch


One of the smaller theaters that we’ve seen in Turkey.


Pretty columns


Some of the arches and columns have been reinforced so they are more impressive and safe. No problem for me. They still look amazingly cool.


Hanane didn’t wear good walking shoes and her feet hurt a lot after our long day at Ephesus. Again and again I am reminded that I am a true Oregonian when I bring my rain jacket with me even when it doesn’t look like it will rain and when I bring running shoes as my one pair for the trip. 


There were a lot of people at Ephesus, though it wasn’t even the busiest time of year. I’m glad we came when we did because there was beautiful weather and less people.


Just pretend that they are in the right order Smile


The Celcius library. SO COOL


This was the giant theater towards the end of Ephesus. My camera decided to die after just a few pictures here. Oh well, I can steal from everyone else.


Last picture and…. dead.


After Ephesus that day we went to Pamucak Beach to watch the sunset. We were practically the only ones there so we decided to do some jumping shots 🙂 Oh so cool….haha


After getting our train tickets to Izmir the next day, we walked around Selçuk. This is the aqueduct lit at night.


The next day (the first day of Kurban Bayrami) we took the train to Izmir (9TL round trip!!!!!). It takes about an hour and a half to get there each way. Many things were closed because of the holiday, but we still had a good time walking around.

Sidenote: Kurban Bayrami is a holdiay centered around sacrificing a lamb or cow to share with your family and the poor who can’t afford one themselves. Since Muslims only eat halal food, the animal prayed over and then the throat is slit to let the blood run out. Blood is considered unclean in Islam so the blood should all be removed from the animal before it is eaten.  In the morning of Kurban Bayrami, the men slaughter the animal and prepare for it to be shared among the family and poor.  As we were riding on the train through the country side, I saw many circles of men standing around animals.  Though I don’t think I could handle watching the animal die, it was cool hearing about the traditions for the holiday from the three Muslims in our traveling group. The holiday lasts three days, but the first day is the most important so most shops and restaurants are closed so people can celebrate with their families.

Pics from the day:


The view from the Kordon, the main walkway along the sea side.


There were a lot of bikes in Izmir as well. Much safer to ride one here than in Istanbul.


A very Turkish dress we saw in a shop window. Maybe for Miss Turkey???


This picture has a long story that goes with it. This man came up to our lunch table with a baby bunny. We didn’t want to pet it (who knows what a rabbit in Turkey is carrying), but thought it was quite cute. He then proceeded to have the grown rabbit “pick our fortunes” from little slips of paper.  He didn’t speak any English, so Rumeysa asked what they were for. He said they were a Bayram gift (normally gifts are free). Rumeysa translated them all for us since they were in Turkish, but the man was still standing there. We asked what he wanted and he said that we had to pay him 2.25TL per fortune! We didn’t want to pay since we didn’t ask for the fortunes in the first place. Rumeysa tried to negotiate with him, but he got rather angry. We ended up paying 1TL per person and trying to ignore him. He started cursing at us in Turkish (which doesn’t really do much good, since Rumeysa is the only one who can understand) and storming away. He then proceeded to walk by our table and point and complain about us to other people. Rumeysa talked to our waiter, and he told the man to leave the restaurant area. After asking Rumeysa what the bunny man said, she told us that they were really bad things and that he wished we wouldn’t make very much money since we didn’t pay for the fortunes (which he took back when we paid the partial amount). Oh well. It makes for a good story at least.


Turkish tea is delicious. It’s supposedly just black tea, but it tastes better than what I normally drink. It’s served in a tulip shaped glass with two or three sugar cubes and a small spoon on the side.


We’re a little bad at timing the jumping pictures.


We also did some perspective pictures Smile


Yao Sheng is good at jumping. He is also really patient with all of us girls. Props to him for putting up with us for more than a week.


A bit late…


The Kordon


One of the many Ataturk houses in Turkey.


Guess what? More dessert! This one had lots of pistachios. Yum


We found a carnival in the giant park in Izmir. So much like the county fair. Except that it was the place to be for people under 16. The girls were all dressed up in high heels and nice clothes and the boys stood around in groups really awkwardly. So funny 🙂 We were definitely the only tourists there.


The prizes for the games were packages of cigarettes. Weird.


My favorite, caramel Smile

Keep checking for the other days of our trip coming soon!



In the CIEE program we take two “study trips” during the term. The first was to Ankara and our next one is to Çanakkale (pronounced: Cha nawk ah lee) in another week. Ankara is the capital and the second largest city in Turkey.  We took an overnight train on Thursday and arrived at 8am Friday morning just in time for an entire day of sightseeing.


The sleeper compartments were very comfortable and reasonably priced. 37.75TL each way which is $20.63. Amtrak easily costs 4 to 5 times that. The train provides sheets and a pillow and the compartments have heaters, electric outlets, and locking doors. Four people sleep in one room.  Does this look Harry Potterish to anyone else?? One of the guys in our program got his backpack stolen while he was in the dining car. His ipod, dictionary and a few other things were stolen. He was actually most upset about losing his dictionary.


A view from the train in the morning.


I liked this building because it had so many signs on it. I am so used to Canby having very short buildings, that it is still quite strange when I am directed to a different floor to pay for items in stores.


We stayed at a nice hotel in Ankara. They had triple rooms with three beds! Much better than Cappadocia where 3 beds were squished into a 2 bed room.


A statue on the campus of METU (Middle Eastern Technical University). Some of the students showed us around the campus. Apparently it is known for being an activist center.


Devrim means revolution. This is the futbol stadium at METU. According to the student giving us the tour, a few years ago chemistry students thought it would be fun to use chemicals to etch this into the seats. Haha I love Chemistry!


After METU, we visited Ataturk’s Mausoleum. Ataturk is the founder of the Turkish Republic and is considered to be the ultimate Turkish hero. It is actually against the law to disrespect his memory.


This statue represents the female Turkish population.  Not sure what they all stand for.


And these represent the male Turkish population. All men are required to serve 15 months in the military either right after high school (if not attending college), or after college for a shorter amount of time.


This is the walkway to the mausoleum square and museum. The stones are set far enough apart to make you trip a little. This is supposed to keep your head bowed while you approach Ataturk’s tomb.


The lions


The second tallest flagpole in Europe. (Turkey/Istanbul seems to have the second biggest of a lot of things)


Pretty passage way pictures.


This is the tomb of Ataturk’s right hand man.


They have guards similar to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington DC. They even get wiped down every so often because they aren’t allowed to move and it’s fairly warm outside.


Ataturk’s tomb. Dignitaries from all over the world come to visit here when they are in Turkey. The wreath on my right is from someone who visited that morning.


It looks a whole lot like the Lincoln Memorial


A cool Turkey map planted with flowers. Note that the purple is all the water surrounding Turkey. The crescent and star are on Turkey’s flag and a very recognizable everywhere.


The changing of the guard. It was very formal and their marching style made me remember marching band in high school because it would hurt really bad to play an instrument with the way they were marching. They slammed each foot into the ground after lifting their entire leg up. Ouch.P1060369

Lahmacun. Kind of like pide (Turkish pizza), but cheaper and thinner. This one has ground meat, tomatoes and spices on it. Delicious!


Hilal (one of our mentors) and Kim


There was a side street in Ankara that had only bookshops! Heaven! I found my Turkish Harry Potter book here SmileP1060457


A cool café we heard about. It really reminded me of the Portland atmosphere Smile


This is the Temple of Augustus. It has a long history of being used by different religious groups. It is connected to the corner of a famous mosque in Ankara so it has a bit more protection than some of the other ruins in Turkey.


Ancient inscriptions, linking the temple to a specific religious group. Not sure which one. whoops


Pretty fountains Smile


Prayer beads and the inside of the famous mosque. Men and women pray separately in mosques, so we toured both sections.


Does anyone else think this looks like the Space Needle?? The castle in the background was one of our next stops.


Busts (Hanane that’s for you) at the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations.


Carvings and statues at the museum. Most of the stuff there was from the Hittites and Phrygians, but this statue shows the Assyrian influence as well.


Think this is a cuneiform tablet.  How cool is that? Western Civ is so real here Smile


This sun disk used to be the symbol of Ankara until a few years ago. Cool design and even cooler that it is so old. I really have a hard time remembering that there is soooo much history spanning many centuries here. (The U.S. is a baby compared to this large amount of history)


Yes, that original, and yes you can touch it. So weird.


My favorite ceiling from the trip! So cool!


A rather awful picture of myself at the castle I showed in the previous picture. It was really high up and we were walking on the outer walls with no supports. A little more than I was comfortable with.


The view from the castle.


The part I couldn’t bring myself to walk on. A little lot too high.


We ate lunch as a big group at little restaurant nearby. We had my favorite, mantı.


In the afternoon we headed to Beypazarı, a small town about an hour outside of Ankara. It is known for carrots (juice etc) and traditional Turkish crafts.


This was one of the few times where I didn’t eat any baklava. Apparently (according to Wikipedia) Beypazarı is known for 80 layer baklava. YUM!

We went to a traditional crafts museum where people dress up and tell about ancient crafts and rituals. This reminded me of all the Oregon Trail and Lewis and Clark museums that I have been to.


We tried water marbling (Ebru) which was awesome! You flick paint of different concentrations (this makes it spread out differently) on top of water that has a special plant dissolved in it.  Then when you finish making your design, you place a piece of paper on top and slide it off the top. The paint clings to the paper with the design that you made.


(not mine, but you get the idea)


A really fuzzy version of what mine looked like when it was finished.


We also had our evil-eye removed.  The idea that everyone has some evil eye in them is a very common idea in Turkey. People with blue eyes get it easier as well. You can get your evil eye removed by having a gypsy woman melt lead and pour the molten metal into a bowl of water above your head.  You are covered with a white sheet during this process. She then “reads” the resulting shape and flicks your with water. You also eat a grain of rice, and a pinch of sugar and salt.  This is to help you lead a balanced life. For extra protection, people carry evil eye beads (nazar boncuğu).



I found this super cute penguin puzzle at the museum in Beypazarı as well. Penguins are the mascots of my sorority (Phi Sigma Rho-the engineering sorority) so my future little (little sister) is definitely going to inherit this Smile

I epically fail at posting blog entries, but at least I get some of them up Smile Leave me some comments! I love hearing from you.

Cappadocia (Kapadokya)

Cappadocia (pronounced: Kapadokia), is a region in the middle of Turkey that is known for it’s landscape. The main features are the fairy chimneys and beautiful valleys that look similar to the grand canyon. Each year the ISS (International Student Society) organizes a trip to Cappadocia, filled with activities and tours.


Expand around the red dot about a quarter inch in all directions and that is the Cappadocia region.

My pictures should help explain what we did while we were there:

Thursday night and Friday:


My swollen knee. I fell up the stairs and landed on this knee with all my weight about 2 hours before we left for Cappadocia. That red line developed into a very pretty purple bruise within the next couple hours.


Bus buddies. This is Jenn Smile She is from Prince Edward Island in Canada. (think Anne of Green Gables)


We left campus at around 10:30pm (it was supposed to be 9pm, but it’s Turkey!) on buses that we rented through the school. They were like Raz busses without TVs. This was a view of the pretty sunrise in the morning. We arrived at our hotel (owned by the family of the president of ISS) at about 11am the next morning.


We took three busses full of people which is about 135 exchange students!


Everyone chilling in the lobby while we waited for our room assignments. The theme of this trip was not knowing what was going on at any given time. (As many of you know, I love organization and having a plan, so I was frustrated for most of the weekend. As I have learned, flexible timing is part of Turkish culture, so I am working on being accepting :] )


A new hotel being built on the street near the hotel. We stayed at Dadak Thermal Spa & Welness Hotel in Kozaklı. This is north of most of the attractions in Cappadocia. The hotel is right behind this building in the picture. It was really nice.

As soon as we got to the hotel, my roommates and I settled in and waited around for instructions. Of course noone knew what was going on, so when we finally went to the lobby to find out, everyone was getting ready to leave the hotel for sightseeing.


Our first stop was to see fairy chimneys. There was a camel there for touristy rides.


According to the tour guide, the fairy chimneys were formed when erosion took away the soft rock layers (Tuff) and left the hard rock layers (Basalt) in place.


Cappadocia has been occupied by various powers (including the Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, and Byzantines, Ottomans and finally the Turks) since the Bronze Age. The fairy chimneys have been used as houses, churches and hideouts for centuries and many can still be toured.


Jenn and Rumeysa (from Holland, but she is Turkish in heritage).


The landscape here is beautiful in every direction.


Another view


This is a church built in the fairy chimneys. It is several stories tall, but there aren’t any ladders inside anymore. Of course that didn’t stop some of the more adventurous people from climbing the walls and through the holes to the top stories.


Civil engineers should really take some lessons from the people that built these. They are well designed and very sturdy.  The rooms are comfortable and shelves, benches and tables are built into the stone in some of the chimneys.


A window in the church.


It’s so weird to me that we can walk all over the chimneys. This would never fly in the US at the National Parks.




Cappadocia is also famous for wine. The grapes are grown low to the ground without tresses.


Our next stop was Imagination Valley where many of the fairy chimneys look like shapes. can you guess what this one is??? Answer: It’s a camel


Aida, Rumeysa and me.


This one is supposed to look like the Virgin Mary.


We then went to Pigeon Valley, so named for the large amount of pigeons there.


There was a tree there that you could tie evil-eye protectors onto. This symbol is everywhere in Turkey.  It is called Nazar Boncuğu in Turkish. You are supposed to wear one at all times to ward off the evil-eye.


Every single touristy shop sells these, so be prepared to get one from me when I return Smile


After a REALLY late lunch (4pm) we went across the street to a pottery workshop where one girl got to try throwing a pot. We were then told that everything in the shop was 50% off. More like each price was double the actual price so we thought we were getting a deal. The pottery was beautiful, but taking it home is going to be a challenge, so I only bought one piece.


We left the hotel midmorning and went to Kaymaklı where the underground cities are located. These cities were up to 8 levels below ground, VERY well engineered to let fresh air into the even the lowest levels, and built around 2000BC but the Hittites.  They were mainly used in the time of the Romans by Christians looking for a hideout. The cities could accommodate up to 50,000 people and be completely sealed off so no above ground trace was visible.


A room in the underground city.


Our tour guide showing us a mill stone.


This is not a place to go if you are claustrophobic. The tunnels are very small and even I had to bend at the waist to move through them. I did bonk my head on the ceiling and lost a bunch of hair since the rock in so rough. No worries, I didn’t go bald in that spot Smile


Huge grates have been added over the holes in the floor that show the lower layers.


Another room.


This is an open air natural castle. I can’t remember the name though.


This was our next stop.  The view was fantastic and the sky even cleared up to give us better picture weather!


These are whirling dervishes. I haven’t seen them yet, but I plan to.


So Young (from Vancouver, BC). We are Pacific NW buddies.


Rumeysa with a bunch of pretty lamps. I want to buy one, but don’t know how I will bring it home without it breaking.


This picture is from the Göreme Open Air Museum. This museum includes about 10 churches carved in the fairy chimneys. They date back to the 4th-11th centuries. St. Basil was instrumental in developing Christianity in this region and the churches are still here with mostly original murals and painted decorations. We couldn’t take any pictures inside the churches, but you can see some pictures of what it looks like here.


Some of the entrances to the churches at the museum.


After the open air museum, we stopped a winery to taste some Cappadocian wine. (the drinking age is 18 in Turkey, but they never check IDs so I’m sure you could be much younger)


I have no idea what kind of white wine I tasted, but it was yummy. It was really cheap as well, but I didn’t buy any.


We got on the buses Sunday afternoon (We didn’t leave in the morning because everyone [not me] wanted to party at the discotek (just a club) at the hotel on Saturday night. Getting up for the bus ride home was hard enough for them I think.) We arrived back to campus at 1am on Monday morning. And of course I had my first Ochem lab at 9:30am that day.

Getting closer to being caught up! One more weekend to post about Smile Leave me some comments like always!

The Princes’ Islands and Model

The same weekend I went to the Spice and Grand bazaars I also went to The Princes’ Islands. A large group of us arranged a shuttle from Koç (A) to the ferry dock at Kabataş. If you have over 17 people going to a certain place, you can arrange a shuttle to take you there and back. Everyone pays a flat rate (much cheaper than public transportation with all the transfers) and you get where you are going much faster. The ferry ride was about an hour and a half long and stopped at multiple islands in the archipelago.  Our group went to Büyükada (Large Island)(B), the largest island. This is a major tourist attraction and the ferry was packed.  The islands are named the Princes’ islands because during the Byzantine period, princes were exiled here. The Ottomans also sent their exiled sultans to the islands.  During the nineteenth century the islands were a popular destination for Istanbul’s well to do. There are still many well preserved Victorian era houses today.  Leon Trotsky also spent a good amount of time there when he was exiled from the Soviet Union. image

Büyükada is known as a tourist destination because there are many beach resorts and nice restaurants. When the weather is clear, you can see the southern Asian Istanbul coastline. There are no cars on the island (except for emergency vehicles) but you can take a horse drawn carriage almost anywhere. You can also rent bikes from about 100 different rental shops for 10TL ($5.50) for the whole day. This was my third day of sightseeing this weekend so I was pretty wiped out by the time we got to the islands. I have decided that I need a rest day during each weekend so I don’t go crazy and get super exhausted.

Hanane, Eelin, Jenn and I broke off from the large group and headed into the middle of town to look around. One major thing I noticed was that the horses were not the healthy strong ones of Oregon, but skinny, boney unhealthy looking ones that made me sad. We decided to not take a carriage ride because of that.

Here are some pics of the day:


A traditional Turkish breakfast includes: beyaz peynir (white cheese-kinda like feta), kaşar peyniri (melty cheese), cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, salam (kinda like bologna or salami), a bell pepper slice, honey, butter and lots of bread. I am hooked and am really going to miss this when I get back to the US.


Jenn at breakfast


Hanane and Eelin at breakfast.


The main street on Büyükada


The rear view of the carriages. I didn’t take a picture of the horses because they were too sad.


This was a really nice neighborhood. Very fancy houses with great views!


I have no idea what this building is.


Just like campus and Istanbul there were cats everywhere.


It was a bit overcast so the view wasn’t the best, but still pretty great!


The shore near the restaurants. I didn’t see the beach resorts, but I think they were on the other side of the island.


And of course we had dessert! This was kadayıf with pistachios. Yummy! The ice cream here is almost chewy in texture, but is very delicious.


I also found loukoumades which are actually Greek! I get them every year at the Greek Food fest in Portland, so I had to get some here as well!


My new bag that is helping to dress up my wardrobe. It’s real leather and a fake Mulberry (which I have been told is really expensive).


This is my roommate Nalan. She is a 4th year Industrial Engr. major. We get along really well Smile

Model Concert

I decided to include the concert at Koç in this post because there were only a couple pictures of it. Koç held a welcome party for the school to start off the semester. They were going to have a bar at the event (normally alcohol is illegal on campus and in the dorms) but something happened and they didn’t have one. There were two performances: Model, a really popular Turkish band came and then a DJ. Model was really good, but I didn’t enjoy it a whole lot because I couldn’t understand any of the lyrics. I am still learning about Turkish music Smile Some of the girls wanted to dance once the DJ came on, but the music was super mixed and even the good songs were hard to dance to. DJs play a lot of American pop music at clubs and at concerts.


Koç only has about 4,000 students, so this was a huge gathering!


Me, Aida (Bosnia), Hanane (Norway), Wing (Hong Kong), Stephanie (Hong Kong), and Rumeysa (Holland).


These giant stairs provide a semi amphitheater experience. Though there is also an amphitheater on campus as well.


People started lighting off fireworks, no biggie…


Three of us shared a waffle which is a fairly common street dessert. The waffle is a lot more sugary than the ones we make for breakfast and has ice cream and other toppings on it.

I’m getting closer to being caught up on posts! I should be almost done with catch-up by the end of the weekend. Smile

Spice Bazaar and The Grand Bazaar

Things have been so hectic here that I haven’t had time to blog in the past two weeks. I already broke my promise of a post per week. DARN!

Day 1: The Spice Bazaar

Anyway, two weekends ago I went to the Spice Bazaar with my friends Hanane (from Norway, but her family is Moroccan), Aida (from Bosnia), Muhammed (from Pakistan) and Omer (also from Pakistan). On Friday morning we all went to Karaköy to get our student travel cards. These cards are just like the metro/bus/tram/funicular cards that anyone can get, but give you a discounted fare each time you ride. The first trip is 1TL (about 50cents), the second is 45 kuruş and the third (if you need that many transfers) is 30 kuruş. Kuruş are like cents. I believe normal fare is about 2TL per ride without a discount. The line to get a travel card was extremely long, but Hanane and Aida grabbed me a number early because they went two hours before my group left. This was SUPER nice because I only had to wait about an hour rather than 3 hrs. After getting our cards, the group of us decided to walk across the Galata Bridge to Eminönü where the Spice Bazaar is located. Since there were several practicing Muslims in the group, our first mission was to find a mosque for prayer. The mosques here are beautiful and most allow tourists to visit if they cover their heads, shoulders and legs. After prayer time, we were hungry and decided to ask around to see if any of the restaurants served mantı (the turkish raviloli that I had the week before). People kept referring us to a specific restaurant, but the street signs are so bad that we had a lot of trouble finding it. We wandered around the shops outside the spice bazaar and asked various people for directions. Aida has taken Turkish language class for 2 years so she can carry a conversation very well and help translate for us. After finding the restaurant, we learned that mantı is only served on a certain day of the week. Oh well. The food was delicious like always and very reasonable.

After lunch we headed toward the main building of the Spice Bazaar. This was my favorite part of the day by far! The inside of the bazaar has stall after stall of spices, Turkish delight and other sweets. The spices are mainly labeled in Turkish, but many of the shopkeepers speak English since it is a super touristy destination. You can always ask to smell what you are interested in to make sure you are getting the correct spice. Prices for most spices are between 20 and 40 TL per kilogram (2.2 lbs). Since all spices are lightweight this is really cheap. I paid 4TL for cinnamon, cumin, and red pepper. Before I return home, I plan on visiting the bazaar again to pick up some spices to use in my cooking at home. After a fun day of shopping we decided to find dinner and then head back to school so the Pakistanis could go to the International Student Society Beach Party. (Since I am a big partier, *insert laugh here*,  I skipped the party and went to bed Smile  SLEEP >>PARTY


The inside garden of a mosque where we waited while Hanane prayed.


The view across the Golden Horn from near the Galata Bridge.


Hanane, Aida, me, Muhammed, and Omer


The northern side of the Golden Horn.


A really beautiful mosque in Eminönü


Another group picture.


The area outside and around the Spice Bazaar is filled with seed shops. They have huge bags of seeds for sale by the kilo.


Since seeds and bulbs don’t really smell, you need to have a really good dictionary or speak Turkish to know what you’re getting here.


You can also buy leeches for whatever your pleasure is.


My second Turkish coffee of the trip. It is served with water because it is so strong and unfiltered. It’s delicious with a medium amount of sugar added. When you order you have to specify how much sugar you want because it is added part way through the brewing process.


More spices, and dried fruit outside the Spice bazaar. The brown things hanging from the roof are dried hollow eggplants used to make dolma.


Some type of dessert. I haven’t tried this one yet, but knowing my sweet tooth, I know that I would like it : )


How spices are displayed at the Spice Bazaar. It smells fantastic as soon as you walk in!


Beautiful pottery at the spice bazaar. This style can be found in any touristy place. I am creating a set, but slowly buying pieces of the same turquoise color.

Day 2: The Grand Bazaar!

On Saturday we set out early from campus and headed back to Eminönü/Sultanahmet.  The Grand Bazaar is very touristy, but is really fun to go to because of the range of goods sold there. My goal was to upgrade my “hippy purse” to a nicer leather one that better matches the culture at Koç. (Though I love my green Mexico purse, I stand out like a sore thumb even more than normal when I carry it)  I also wanted to look for some small gifts that I could give to people back in Oregon. Hanane and Aida told me to chill out as soon as I asked if they knew what they wanted to get. Apparently, my American engineer-to-be traits of time management and efficiency also stand out a little too much here 🙂  The bazaar is amazing and you can easily get lost if you’re not careful. The many gates are numbered and there are signs in case you get lost. I have a great sense of direction so I was in charge of getting us out of the bazaar at the end of the day, while Hanane helped everyone bargain and Aida translated if necessary. We make a good team Smile  Here are some pictures of our day


Chocolate pudding at lunch.


Pistachio baklava at lunch. Pistachios are one of the most common nut in Turkey.


Kunefe= the best dessert I have ever had. It has crunchy pastry noodles on the outside with warm stringy cheese filling. It is soaked in butter and sugar syrup and served straight from the oven. DELICIOUS!


Aida and Hanane at lunch 🙂


The jewelry aisle in the bazaar. The most common line from the shopkeepers is, “Hello beautiful! Where are you from?” As an American I am really good at walking away, but European culture is different and Hanane and Aida always start a conversation. After finding out where I am from, they want to know if I live in L.A. or New York, the only two cities in America. haha no.


More pottery at the bazaar. Everything is really colorful.


Leather jackets are seen everywhere in Turkey as well. I plan on buying one, just so I have one for special occasions. It’s very European chic, you know 🙂


The look of a common shop.


Hanane wanted to go to the mall as well, so we found this one. It’s the 2nd biggest mall in Europe and makes Clackamas Town Center look like our local grocery store. I wanted to go to H & M, but they didn’t have it, so I will have to go to Taksim another time.


They did have Starbucks though!


And I got my usual drink (cough cough, Lizzy Baker) a caramel machiato Smile so yummy.  And this is how my name turned out when I told the barista. haha


Here is my new bag!! A fake Mulberry bag from the bazaar! Woohoo Smile I also got a matching teal wallet.


My roommate, Nalan, modeling my bag as well. We are getting along great!

I love questions and comments, so ask away! I miss you all 🙂

Arrival and Turkish Time

I made it through all of my transfers ok and arrived to the airport yesterday (9/10) evening. Riding any mode of transportation is interesting in Istanbul. The bus to KU was quite large compared to the cars and other minibuses (Dolmuş—pronounced dolmush) but drove just like a 5-person car. Cars also don’t really drive in lanes—they move at will and don’t signal very often. They also use the wide shoulders as lanes to pass people. It’s definitely different than the U.S.. Here are some pictures from my first days at KU : )


The inflight GPS that my dad would have LOVED!


My dorm room (not showing my very large wardrobe closet and fridge).


Breakfast (olives, tomatoes, cucumber, fresh fruit, soft bread, sliced meat and strong cheese are all served at breakfast). I did find some stuff like Nutella that was fantastic with the bread.


Boats on the Bosphorus while riding the ferry to Asian Istanbul.


The castle we hiked to in Asian Istanbul. Turkish flags are EVERYWHERE!


The Bosphorus Straight leading into the Black Sea.


The Bosphorus and view of European Istanbul.


Public bathrooms that you pay 1 Turkish Lira (75 cents) to use.


Part of the CIEE exchange group getting beer in Asian Istanbul. The waiter was very friendly and even bartered with us on pricing.


Tomorrow we are going back to Sariyer to get cell phones and anything else we need from the city before classes begin next Monday (9/19).

I love comments so feel free to ask questions and anything else!!