Turkey

Istanbul

“If the world were a single state, Istanbul would have been its capital.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

Istanbul is absolutely majestic. With its impressive history, this city me giddy with excitement to explore and explore I did.

The Grand Bazaar was one of my favorite sites. Colorful can’t even begin to describe this shopping wonder. Opened in 1461, it has over 4,000 shops. One can buy anything from hookahs, jewelry, souvenirs, ceramics, magic carpets or magic lamps. Never accept a person’s first price because you’re expected to haggle for the best price, often lowering the initial price to half. Unfortunately, all I could do is ogle and take pictures of the things I wanted considering all I brought was a backpack as luggage for 13 days of travelling. Make sure to give yourself 2-3 hours to sniff around because it’s enormous and worth getting lost.

Another cool site was an underground cistern practically in the center of Sultanahmet. A cistern is a fancy word to describe a reservoir that stores water. It was built by Emperor Justinian in 532 CE and it holds 335 marble pillars that supports the roof! The bottom is filled with water and is lit with orange-looking light that makes one believe there’s gold or hidden monsters lurking for their next meal. At the end of the walkway are two mysterious giant Medusa heads. No one knows why they were placed in the cistern. I like to think they were there to combat those hidden monsters lurking in the water. At the end of our little walking tour, Lenny and I did the super touristy thing and paid to take pictures in traditional Turkish clothes.

I think mosques are so beautiful and majestic. The exterior is just as impressing as the interior. The Mosque of Sultan Ahmet I, also known as the Blue Mosque, is right across the Hagia Sophia. Five times a day, you’ll hear this enchanting call to prayer being broadcasted from the speakers of the Blue Mosque. Only allowed to enter during the non-worship hours, you have to take your shoes off. Ladies, if you’re showing off your legs or shoulders, they’ll give you a wrap to cover yourselves. Inside, you’re greeted with enormous chandeliers and beautiful ceiling work. It’s free to enter and enjoy.

This UNESCO word heritage site is the famous Hagia Sophia. It was rebuilt by Emperor Justinian in 537 CE and was the center of Orthodox Christianity for 900 years until 1453. When the city was conquered by the Ottomans, Sultan Mehmed II converted it into a mosque and it became known as the grand mosque of the sultans. In 1935, Hagia Sophia was preserved into a museum and is now one of the coolest and most important monuments in the world. Inside, you can still see the Christian mosaics alongside the turkish treasures.

If you want some real Turkish food or nightlife, take the tram up to Taksim Square. This side of Istanbul is super modern and feels like a metropolitan city. Here you’ll find most of the nice hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and shopping centers. Fortunately for me, my friend Selim who I met when we both studied abroad in Florence, Italy, lives in Istanbul and insisted in taking Lenny and I out to eat. He treated us to real authentic Turkish food, helped us learn a couple of Turkish words and took us out for drinks (Be aware of the taxes on alcohol. A couple of drinks can get pretty expensive).

Here are some of my other favorite pictures from around Istanbul:

If you like an adventure and want to experience something unique and amazing, take a trip to Istanbul! Have any of you guys been to Istanbul? Or somewhere else in Turkey?

Categories: Sarai Quiel, Turkey, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

VACATION!

In Malaga, we get Semana Blanca. What is Semana Blanca? “Semana Blanca is basically an extra week of holidays enjoyed only in the Malaga province of Andalucía to compensate for the fact that their main feria month is August, which is a non academic month. In other words, the region of Andalucía does not want to be short changed with their holidays”. Phenomenal, right?

Thank God for week long breaks! Photo credit to dailymail.co.uk

Since we have Fridays off, Lenny and I will be travelling from the 23rd of February until the 4th of March. And I’m SOOO moist for our itinerary!

23/02 – 27/02 : We’ll be in Romania, specifically in Bucharest, Brasov and Sinaia. We’re renting a car and driving through Transylvania. I’m jumping with glee that pretty soon I can say that I’ve been to Dracula’s castle! (<—Random fact about me: I love vampire books and films)

Unirii Square in Bucharest, Romania. Photo Credit to theodora.com

Dracula’s castle in Bran, Romania. Photo Credit to wallpaperweb.org

27/02 – 29/02 : We’re finally making our way to Turkey! We’re going to Istanbul and getting our kebabs on. We’re actually staying in a really cheap hostel but they have a terrace with the best views of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.

Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo credit to visit2istanbul.com

Turkish Bath. Photo Credit to europebudgetguide.com

29/02 – 03/03 : Next, we’ll be in Berlin, Germany. Everyone we’ve talked to has told us that Berlin is definitely the place to be in Germany so I’m looking forward to it.

Berlin, Germany. Photo credit to dirtcheapberlin.com

City of Berlin, Germany. Photo credit to buzzvoyages.com

03/03 – 04/03 : We leave from Germany back to Malaga. Fortunately, we have a juicy layover in Oslo, Norway so we’re going to take advantage of it and sniff around Oslo until our flight back home.

Oslo, Norway. Photo credit to vacationreview.com

*Our flights in total cost a little over 200 euros from Malaga, Spain. We used Pegasus Airlines, Blue Air, and of course Ryanair. Pegasus and Blue Air were one of the cheapest airlines we found that flew into eastern Europe.

Categories: Germany, Norway, Romania, Sarai Quiel, Turkey | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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