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…


Day 4 – Kayseri on 19 May Youth & Sports Festival

Today was a national holiday.  The Youth & Sports Festival dedicated by Ataturk has been a national holiday since 1903.  Ataturk truly believed the children are our future.  He has been quoted as saying, “Healthy Brain is in the Healthy Body.” 

Flowers left for Ataturk in celebration of 19 May.

As we traveled to Kayseri, we saw several flags and dedication memorials for him.  On the way, we stopped by the Fairy Chimney’s which are natural double rock formations.  The one we saw in particular was Mother, Father, and Child. 

Fairy Chimney

After arriving in Kayseri, we saw the old walls of the city, what is left of the Citadel.  In olden days, Kayseri was an important stop for where the East meets West for distribution on the old silk road.  It functioned as a wall street.

Entering through the walls of the Citadel - Kayseri

We stopped by the Hunat Hatun Mosque which is over about 800 years old.  The architecture echoes what we saw in the Hagia Sophia. The Hunat Hatun was our first official Mosque visit.  In Islamic culture, entrants must remove their shoes before entering.  There is a slight odor of feet, but it’s the architecture of the mosque that takes your breath away.  For Americans, it’s necessary to cover up all the lady bits and man skin as it can be distracting for those there to have time with Allah.    It’s also imperative not to walk in front of anyone while they are praying as in the faith, it would then mean they are praying to you.

Hanut Hatun Mosque – Kayseri – May 19, 2011

Stops at the Ethnographic Museum and the Bazaar gave us a great idea of the past and the present for what it’s like as a resident of Kayseri. 

Cooking at the Ethnographic museum

From the past into the present, we searched for continued culture practiced in modern times.  Here is a video of our tour guide Deniz explaining the reasoning for one of the outfits for boys in Islamic culture at the Bazaar:

We walked through the park dedicated to one of the great Turkish architects to reach the Gevher Nesibe Hatun (University and Medical Hospital).  What was really cool was that the Gever Nesibe was started because the daughter of it’s founder was forced by her father be separated by her lover and he was sent to fight in the war.  She met an unfortunate demise to TB and on her death bed, her father begged her for forgiveness.  She told him that all would be forgiven if he built a hospital, named it after her, and allowed people to have free health care at the hospital. 

Statue of Mimar Sinan famed Turkish Architect and Mathematician


Our final stop was the Doner tomb.  A great example of Asian influence on Turkish architecture.  Unfortunately, someone tagged the exhibit.   The translation means something like, “Although I face death, I will not turn from my task.”  It’s sad someone would do that, but it’s not unlike anything that we face here in America.  The only difference is that in Turkey at least the message is there versus some teens name.   

It was then back to the hotel for a little R & R before we headed out to Uranos Sarakaya, a restaurant that performs cultural dances while you eat. The absolutely gorgeous cave restaurant is the perfect ambiance for a great night out.  A really cool thing about the dancing was that it ranged from Celtic to Belly dancing.  A blend of Turkey’s east and west heritage. 

Dancers at Uranos Sarakaya Resturaunt in CappadociaDancers at Uranos Sarakaya Resturaunt in Cappadocia - Knife ThrowingBelly Dancer at Uranos Sarakaya Resturaunt in Cappadocia


Chris, one of the students at Woodbury was pulled on stage to perform with the belly dancer.  I think he really enjoyed it.  I’ll post a video later 🙂

Well, I’m off to check out some Ceramic Artists and Camel Valley.  Today’s the last day in Cappadocia.  I’m sure going to miss it.