Istanbul (Not Constantinople)

Istanbul (Not Constantinople)

I’m back & I brought Turkey!  I know I’ve been M.I.A. for some time now, but looking back at my calendar & to do lists, I’m lucky I’m here at all.  Although I have a breather right now between exams, it’s still finals week, which means my wonderful, but insane, year of traveling all over the world is quickly coming to an end.  I am so excited & ready to go home, but at the same time I’m not ready to say goodbye to Switzerland or my Lausanne family.  So, instead of dwelling on emotional goodbyes, let’s reminisce about our educational field trip to Istanbul!

Istanbul is probably one of the most unique cities in the world, a place where Europe & Asia meet.  The city has so much history & culture & can be compared to nothing I have experienced before.  I was so excited to hear that it would be the destination for our spring semester EFT & it definitely lived up to expectations in every aspect…except in the weather department.  After looking at photos from the Florence program’s trip to Istanbul the week before, I figured that our program would also be exploring the city in t-shirts & shorts.  However, we had the complete opposite, of course.  Luckily we brought our puffy jackets because between the wind & rain it was freezing.  It seems that no matter where our program goes, the rainy & cold Lausanne weather seems to follow us.  Either way, between the amazing history of the city, beautiful sites, & great company, I will always remember my trip to Istanbul!

Our first stop was the famous Blue Mosque.  In order to go in, we all had to take our shoes off & girls had to cover their hair.  A lot of the ladies actually ended up leaving their scarves on even after leaving – turns out they keep you nice & toasty!






Slide05Right across from the Blue Mosque is the Hagia Sophia.  It used to be a church, but after Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks, Mehmed II ordered the church to be converted into a mosque.  Looking at the ceilings, you can find traces of the old church coming back through thanks to the humidity over the years.







Slide14One of the things Turkey is known for is their beautiful & intricate rugs!  We visited a store & saw some of these hand-made carpets for ourselves while sipping some delicious apple tea.  It’s a shame we didn’t get one, but our dorm rooms are just a little too small.


Slide18The Dolmabahce Palace was where the sultans used to live.  Security was tight in the palace.  We had to wear plastic covers over our shoes & we couldn’t take any pictures.  I wish I could have though, as the palace contained one of the most spectacular chandeliers I had ever seen.  Just add it to the tab along with the carpet.




There also happen to be another palace on our itnerary…the Topkapi Palace!  Converted into more of a museum these days, this palace contained some of the most amazing relics & jewels, including the 86 carat Spoonmaker’s diamond.  So, can I pay with a card?


The sultan would eavesdrop on meetings from behind this screen!

The sultan would eavesdrop on meetings from behind this screen!

In order to get a spectacular view of the city, we went up the Galata Tower.  Yes, I know, another tower.




Slide34Our last mosque of the week was the Rustem Pasha Mosque.  This mosque had some of the most vibrant & beautiful blue tiles I had ever seen.  It was by far my favourite of the three we had seen.





Slide38Istanbul is also well known for their spice markets!  With so many colourful exotic spices & many delicious samples of Turkish Delight, it almost made me not mind as much when people yelled at us, calling us the “Spice Girls”.  I call Baby Spice!




On our last stop of the trip, we decided to take a break from mosques & visit the Greek Orthodox Patriarch.  Apparently like everything in Istanbul, this church was old, beautiful, & intricately designed.




Finally, here’s a video made by our program videographer!




That’s it for Turkey!  Next stop, Barcelona for long weekend with a special guest!  Stay tuned!




Hannah Jane

Just a girl sharing the baubles she loves & the bliss she experiences!

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