Day 25 – Istanbul

I woke up at 6AM.  I couldn’t believe today I had to be at the airport.  WHY!??!!  I need just one more day to say good-bye properly.  As I plotted ways to miss my plane, to figure out a way to wash dishes and afford an apartment, I said my goodbye’s to the lucky remaining students bound for Greece and Italy, and boarded the shuttle to the airport.

Luckily, I had company on the bus to talk to to keep my eyes from wandering off to look out the window at the Bosphorus, Mosques, Palaces, Businesses, and people.  I think now in hindsight, I would have teared and went into a mad frenzy in order to be deemed un fit to fly so that I could have another day or two there.  :-p

At the airport, I checked my bags.  It was official, I was leaving and had no other way out.  I hugged our tour guide Deniz, telling her not necessarily goodbye….

Somehow, I know I’ll be back…

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Day 15 – Bursa

Today we visited the Green Mosque & Green Tomb, the Ulu Mosque, and the Silk Market (Kozahan). 

The Green Mosque was amazingly imperfect.  It was in the process of being restored and we were lucky that the Imam and the architects restoring the Mosque were eager to make our acquaintance.  The Imam spoke perfect English and was forthcoming in providing us with answers and information on all the intricacies of the mosque.  The chief architect even showed us a feature that we hadn’t seen in any of the other Mosques or buildings before.  When it was built in the 15th century, they installed rollers to ensure the building was still level and intact in the event of an Earthquake.  As long as the rollers still move, the building is fine.

The Green Mosque in Bursa, Turkey

The Green Mosque was small and quaint and the art work was purposefully done without perfection as a way to show humility below Allah (God).    The building project itself was never completed in it’s day.  However, it is referred to as the Green Mosque because the green tiles reflects light which creates a green hue within the mosque.  The Sultan that funded the project is buried in a “matching” tomb nearby. 

Inside the Green Mosque

The Green Tomb is the resting place of Celebi Sultan Mehmet I Turbesi and his 3 sons, 4 daughters, and nanny.  The tomb isn’t the resting place of his wife because back then, culturally the daughter is always buried with her father.  The coolest part about visiting the Green Tomb and Mosque was that over the course of a week and a half, I’ve really gained an appreciation for architecture and also Islamic Art.  I have a greater understanding of what the smallest details mean and even the work put into create it.  🙂

Inside the Green Tomb in Bursa, Turkey

So, when we arrived at the Ulu Mosque, I found a stark difference among others.  A lot of the Asian influence could be seen in the decor, but when the Mosque itself featured 20 domes and calligraphy with no patterns or designs except on the carpet and minbar, I was floored because there was a big difference in the status quo.  I like to believe that the reason for this was to remind worshippers at the mosque that they are there to be focused on the word over anything else.  But our Islamic Art and History professor says it’s because Calligraphy is an art of it’s own in the Muslim world. 

Ulu Mosque in Bursa, Turkey

So after admiring the art of calligraphy, we headed to the silk market.  The silk market should be renamed to the scarf market.  There were what seemed to be 30 scarf shops.  How do they stay in business with their competitors next door?  Most importantly, how would I have money to eat with walking through all of that?! 

Entering the Silk Market in Bursa, Turkey

The good news was, the silk market didn’t just feature scarves.  There were silk ties and shirts too. :-p  Ok, there were cafe shops and a pretty cool Jewelry store.  We (The MBA’s & Meredith) befriended the Jewelry shop owner because he helped translate at the shop next door in order for Brenda to buy a gift for a family member.   The owner (pictured below) even granted us an interview so we could learn more about his business.  Truly it became an incredible insight to the Jewelry & Custom furniture business even though it was all really an excuse to day dream about owning a titanic sized diamond ring before heading back to the hotel. 

Jewelry Store

When we got back to our dream world at the Kervansaray, we had spa time before the dinner with a Turkish bath.  The good news about a Turkish bath, I no longer have stretch marks.  The bad news, I’m waiting for my skin to grow back.  :-p  Kidding, it wasn’t that bad… It was a little strange at first, I felt a little violated, but after it was over, I found myself glowing and feeling refreshed.

Now, I’m going to bed feeling as if the whole day was a dream.  But at least tomorrow, I’ll still be in this waking dream where I’m still in Turkey!

Day 8 – Lake Country

Up and on the bus by 8AM.  We’d be journeying through lake country for 8 hours to arrive at our destination.  Miles of lakes and green landscapes, mountains and volcanoes would make me feel as though we were in a country that was untouched if I didn’t see lthe city of Konya.

Bye Bye Konya

We’d pass farm houses and small communities of people who wake up every morning to gorgeous mountain and lake views.  We’d also pass by various unoccupied home communities that are a part of the 2023 project for Turkey.  2023 marks the 100 year anniversary of the Turkish Republic.  They plan to fully rebuild the communities devistated by Earthquakes past, but the mot important thing is to be prepared for the future.  Turkey is a country that looks at the big picture. 

Houses under construction - Turkey

Turkey is a green country.  I don’t mean the miles of green, but also nearly every home hassolar panels and water heating systems in order to keep the air clean and also the costs down.  Every hotel thus far has been green.  The lights and electricity for the rooms are disabled when the room key is not in a slot.  Napkins are not given or even readily available in mass quantities.   When it comes to keeping the country as untouched as possible, the Turkey has done a wonderful job.

Lake Country Turkey - My favorite pic so far

We stopped at the Esrefoglu Mosque in Beysehir.  Outside we were greeted by women merchants who were eager to tie our scarves in their manner.  The hospitality was enough to win us over, but this mosque is  by far my favorite.  The columns were still the original ones and crafted from cedar.  The green carpet paired with the hand organic painted beams made me feel as though I was walking into a rain forest.  The Imam (minister and keeper of the mosque) was kind enough to sing for us the Call to Prayer to illustrate the wonderful acoustics of the over 900 year old Mosque. 

The mosque has wonderful secrets and puzzles exist in it’s hand crafted architecture.  “Made by Jesus” is a signature left in the Minbar (Pedastal steps) and someone even had the audacity to punch through the Mehrab in order to retrieve legendary gold coins buried within it’s walls.  There is no word on if the coins actually were there or even exist.  But sitting in this temple, made me feel as if I were in a scene from Indiana Jones.

Esrefoglu Mosque

Here’s a video of the Imam singing the call to prayer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVpCxpxxmog&feature=youtube_gdata

We boarded the bus and made one more stop before arriving at our final destination.  The ancient Hitit Spring, Eflatun Pınar, a fresh water source left behind an ancient empire that existed in biblical times.  It was a peaceful place and it’s neighbors I’m sure take advantage of it as a place to read or weave.

Hitit Site - Eflatunpinar

After 8 hours, we arrived at the Richmond Hotel.  It looks like a slice of Miami.    An oasis in the middle of the mountains.

I’m pool side now enjoying a margarita after an unforgettable day…  See you tomorrow!