Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Istanbul: March 3rd

I'm finally back from a much needed week of traveling!  It felt so good to be out and about in the world again, and my travel bug is officially back.  This semester for long study tour, I was lucky enough to get to travel to Istanbul with my Conflict & Migration program, and I am definitely in withdrawal from the magic in this exciting and enchanting city.  Going into this trip, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I had heard only good things.  On our trip, we would not only get to experience the unique culture of this city, but also take a more academic approach, looking at how the meeting of Eastern and Western culture in the city affects the balance of the population.  Eventually, our class is going to write up a new "mock" constitution for Turkey, addressing the concerns which we would witness first hand.  We were broken up into groups to examine specific aspects, and my group's task was to observe Greek, Armenian, and Non-Muslim life in the city.  Armed with some key preliminary research, we were ready to start our adventure.

Day 1 wasn't nearly as dramatic as last semester, as I all my toiletries managed to make it into my suitcase, and I didn't have to take another 6am frantic run back to the apartment.  Fortunately, our flight didn't depart until 12:30, so my housemate Molly and I were able to stop for coffee on our walk to the Metro and actually made it to the airport before anyone else in our class- YAY punctuality.  After meeting up with our classmates, checking out bags, making it through security (where I was pulled to the side to be patted down/tickled to death) we boarded our flight, which treated us to a delicious meal of mushroom ravioli.  Before we knew it, we landed in Istanbul!

Soon after, we met up with our guide for the week- Koray.

From the start, Koray proved to be the most entertaining tour guide ever.  He and our professor go way back, so he's been helping out with DIS study tours for a while.  On our bus ride to the hotel, he gave us plenty of practical information about Turkish culture, including a warning against making flirtatious eye-contact with people out at the bars, as this could be perceived as overly suggested.  Unfortunately, this tip lead to everyone in our group avoiding eye-contact at all costs and probably looking crazy.  Oh well, better safe than sorry.

Our hotel was gorgeous, and in such a great location.  We took a short walk to the main walking street, where our restaurant for the night was located.  On the way there, we witnessed a minor fist-fight on the street (the cause of which Koray explained probably had something to do with someone's mother being insulted, I guess "Yo Mama" jokes aren't appropriate in Turkey?).  No worries though, we arrived safe and sound and began my favorite part of study tours- DINNER.

The first dinner was a bit eclectic and included an assortment of spreads, fried fish, and mystery fruit saturated in honey, but it was tasty nonetheless!

The world's best baba ganoush! 

Tiny little fried shrimp

Little fishy who you were supposed to eat, bone and all.  I did some dissecting instead..
After dinner, it was time to get some rest before our packed day of cultural visits!  ...But not before stopping and picking up our first authentic Turkish delight from the candy store we would continue to frequent for our five days in Istanbul.

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