Trip Start Jun 10, 2012
Trip End Aug 17, 2013

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Flag of Turkey  ,
Wednesday, March 27, 2013

We stopped at another city in Turkey: Istanbul. My mom was really excited about that because she's been wanting to go here when she was little. She said a long time ago, she used to play a game that involved lots of countries and cities, and Instanbul was always the coolest one. It did end up being really awesome. Istanbul is so exotic. It reminds me of the movie Aladdin. There were genie lamps, amazing palaces and mosques, and they say they have the best carpets in the world. The city is both in Europe and Asia. It was once the capital of three different powerful empires: Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman. We did a tour here, and I'm glad we did because we were able to learn a lot and visit more places. We first visited the Hyppodrome, which used to be a huge public area for the Byzantines. Nowadays it is just a nearly empty square. Next was the Blue Mosque. It is named that because of all the blue and white tiles on the inside walls. It was really beautiful and extremely elaborite inside the mosque. The carpet was thick and patterned, and the ceiling and walls were full of detailed designs. All sides of the mosque were filled with stained glass windows. There were huge chandeliers that I could tell once held candles instead of light bulbs.
We went to the Topkapi Palace afterwards. The palace was built during the Ottoman empire, and the Sultans (rulers during that time) lived there. It was really big with a few museums. One of them held clothes of the Sultans. The outfits were huge! They looked like they belonged to fat giants, not to mention they were very ladylike. Maybe that's just because the shirts looked like dresses, but they mostly had floral or swirly patterns. We visited one other small museum, and that had a few really cool things like David's sword, Moses' wooden staff and many artifacts that belonged to Muhammad. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take any pictures in this museum (I snapped one of Moses' staff though. Hey, everyone was doing it!).
We also visited the St. Sophia Church. Like the Blue Mosque, it was very elaborite, with designs all over the ceiling and walls. This church was built by the Byzantines, and it is not actually named after a Saint. It's not named after my sister, either. The church was actually named "Sacred Wisdom," Saint meaning sacred and Sophia meaning wisdom. This church was beautiful. There were lots of mosaics, and the ceilings were very high and round for producing great echos.
We went to a carpet demonstration after. They showed us how luxurious Turkish carpets really are. They are hand made out of cotton, wool, or silk. The Turkish carpets are different from others because they are double knotted, which makes them much better quality. In the silk ones, there can be up to 800 double knots in one square inch. We also went to the Gran Bazaar. It is this huge shopping area with tons of alleys filled with stands. They mostly sold lots of gold and glass lamps, carpets, gold jewelry, genie lamps, little golden bejeweled elephants and camels, and lots of other typical Istanbul things. As we were leaving the Bazaar, we heard a prayer call. There is a loud call throughout the entire city from high on a palace five times a day. It is so everyone can stop and pray together. On the way back when we crossed the bridge, there were dolphins jumping out of the water. I could see a beautiful palace sticking out over all the buildings. Istanbul was amazing and exotic, and I wish we would have had more time there. Maybe I'll come back someday.
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