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 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 7 – Konya

 

Waking up in the Hotel Rumi wasn’t as luxurious as the other places.  Last night, my roommate and I tried to switch rooms because of the overwhelming stench of cigarette smoke.  The hotel was booked solid.  So, we had no choice but to stay in our present room.  They were nice enough to come up and spray it with a fragrence.  It helped temporarily.  The air was far too cool to leave the window open, so I choked on the air when I woke up. 

The good news this morning, we’d have a rooftop breakfast of fruit and pastries.  We’d also visit Rumi’s tomb.

Rumi’s tomb is a pilgramage stop for ones journeying to Mecca.  While the tombs themselves were constructed by artisans that even constructed the conical hat wrapped in a turban at he head place.  I was moved by the people who cried at the tomb and even kissed the glass case surrounding the beard of Mohammed.  For them this visit was more than a step into history, but a place of spiritual enlightenment.  A place where they are assured they are going in the right direction.

Followers line up to visit Rumi's tomb

We couldn’t take pictures within the tomb because of this spiritual significance, but it is etched in my mind forever.  But for those who can’t go without pictures, here’s a picture I took stole with Venus Williams outside of Rumi’s tomb. 

I pretend to think Kipenzi is Venus Williams

We went to a Mosque and two Medressa Museums. The mosque was unique as it did not have doors, but giant carpets hanging to close it.  The floor’s carpeting was of a newer design that created separate rows to better organize people as they pray.  The carpeting also mrirored the ceiling and dome’s design.  At the schools (medressa), they were unique as they had separate rooms and in the center water features.  Both of the school/museums founders were entombed at the locations as well.

Tomb of Sultans

Curious about a Turkish Bath in passing, we ducked in to find out what the excitement was.  It was so hot that while we didn’t see steam with the naked eye, the camera caught all the heat:
 

Inside the Turkish Bath

We also visited an archaelogical site where Roman & Greek history was evident in the art work of the tomb stones and a few remaining sarcophagus.   Turkey has been strongly influenced by Roman and Greek culture and was once a part of the Roman Empire. 

 

Roman-Turkish Carcughagus in Archaelogical Museum in Konya, Turkey

After all our stops, it was time to call it a day… a long day, but filled with lots of museum stops of historical signifigance for Turkish culture.  But before retiring for the day, we had to see some modern reflections of the market place in a wonderful place, we like to call the Mall.

The Turkish Mall was very similar to other mall’s in America.  If I was familiar with all the brand and store names, I would have forgotten I was in Turkey until, I ran into the delivery driver for Burger King.  At first glance, I thought he was a race car driver with his Burger King logo’d chaps and jacket.  But no, he was the delivery driver for Burger King.  Yes, Burger King.  I can’t say it enough for it to settle in.  I couldn’t imagine ordering in for a hot whopper, but now that I saw it in the flesh, I guess it would be a guilty pleasure worth waiting for… on second thought…

After buying a couple scarves and a rain jacket, I felt I did enough damage.  The rest of the stuff I could get at home.  We all called it a night and looked forward to tomorrow where we’d leave Konya, for Lake Country and Pammukkale.