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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Jennifer- Ankara- Week 2

The past week and a half has been really busy for us in Ankara and Istanbul! I feel like so much happens everyday sometimes something we did in the morning feels like it happened 2-3 days ago. Traveling around Ankara and Turkey is so much fun and I have been learning so much about Turkish culture and its history. It is amazing how much history is everywhere in Turkey. Even with a simple trip to downtown, we pass buildings with historical meaning.

This last week we have been holding conversation classes as usual, but we also started the after-school clubs for the students. So far we have had social club where we play board games such as scrabble to encourage the students to practice their English with us. Also there was a glee club and a fortune telling club. On Monday it was an official holiday and originally we had planned on going to a music concert that was put on by a neighboring university, METU, but because of the mining incident at Soma, the Turkish government declared 3 days of official mourning. This meant most concerts and festivals on Monday were cancelled. The mining incident really affected the moods of many people here, there was a mix of frustration and sadness because of the lack of information available on the number affected by the mine explosion. The Turkish flag outside of TOBB ETU was half raised to represent the country's mourning. It was such a sad and unfortunate thing to happen, and it showed me how united Turkish citizens are. Today is our last work day for this week because the Prime Minister is coming to TOBB ETU tomorrow for a conference, so classes will be cancelled.

Exploring Ankara
Last week we also began exploring more of the historical sites in Ankara. We wanted to visit Ataturk's mausoleum but it isn't open on Mondays and closes at 6 everyday. Because we don't get off of work until 5 we have to figure out a better time to go. However, we did visit the Ankara castle which was about a 1.5 hour long trip to get to the top of the castle. On the way we were able to see a mosque that was connected to a temple that was built sometime in the B.C era! Apparently it was a temple that supported beliefs in the cosmos, but it was so cool to see buildings that were so old in a modern city like Ankara. At the top of the castle the view was incredible. From the top I was able to see Ankara's mix of developed and undeveloped lands. The landscape in Turkey is so interesting because there is a blend of new and old everywhere we go.

All of us on the ferry on the Bosphorus.
We took advantage of the long weekend and were able to spend 4 days in Istanbul! The bus ride from Ankara was about 6/7 hours, but we slept for most of the way there. Istanbul was one of the most spectacular cities I have ever seen. We stayed near Taksim Square, where the protests happened last year. Walking down the street I saw many police with shields and gas
masks, but didn't see any riots. There were rumors that there would be a lot of protests because of the mining incident in Soma, but even at night we didn't see any. On Sunday, we went to the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque. The buildings were so beautiful and I was blown away by the architecture and artwork inside. I got goosebumps while I was in the Hagia Sophia just looking at the paintings and structure of the building, amazed by how people were able to build it so long ago. Although I had previously learned about the Hagia Sophia in a history class, I never realized just how incredible the building really was. We also went to the Grand Bazar and it was so much fun. The scarves and pottery were all so beautiful and bargaining with shop owners can be really stressful but also fun sometimes. Also we took a ferry ride down the Bosphorus river to see "all" of Istanbul. The water was beautiful and it was crazy to think that we were on the body of water that separates Europe and Asia! Istanbul also had so many beautiful mosques next to corporate buildings. It's interesting to see the dynamic of the city and the contradicting nature of Istanbul. I could never be bored walking around Istanbul just looking at the sights.
Blue Mosque 

While Istanbul was crowded with tourists, there were also many hidden cafes and shops in streets away from the normal tourist areas. I loved walking around and seeing so many cafes and one morning I woke up early to drink coffee and read. There was no one in the cafe and it was still pretty early so not that many people were on the streets. It was so peaceful to be there and I still have a hard time believing that I am in Turkey sometimes. The owner of the cafe had actually lived in New York for almost 10 years and was very welcoming. 

I couldn't finish this post before talking about the food I have been eating! There is so much delicious food everywhere in Turkey. In Istanbul I was finally able to eat some seafood after eating mostly meat dishes the past 2 weeks. The fish was served in its entirety, but was delicious and pretty fresh. In Ankara I had the most delicious tavuk sis dorum (chicken kebab sandwich) and the normal meat sandwich was also really good. Last week we ordered kebab with a Turkish student and ate it at her dorms. It was really good and I made sure to get the restaurant's name so we could order from it in the future. The breakfasts here are all amazing and pretty cheap depending on where you go. I love Turkish breakfast and have been concocting yummy new combinations out of the cheeses, jams, and breads. Also I tried the street food: mussels stuffed with rice. I was hesitant to try some at first because there were stands everywhere and I wasn't sure how long some of them had been sitting out for. However, after I saw a local order from a stand and then go back for more, I knew the stand was probably okay. I tried one and then ordered 3 more little ones and it all costed 2 liras! They were so good, but the rest of the day I was pretty nervous for any side effects. Luckily I felt fine, so in the end it was worth it! I love trying new food and I can't wait to taste more of the different types of cuisine from the different regions of Turkey.

Me about to eat the stuffed mussel!

Cheap and delicious street food!
Yummy fried fish from the Bosphorus.

Next level dorm food

Tavuk sis.

Tomorrow morning we are leaving for Antalya and I can't wait! There are many beaches there because it is on the Mediterranean coast. It will be so nice to just relax by the beach, enjoy the weather, and eat more yummy food.

1 comment:

  1. Jennifer,

    It really seems like you're enjoying yourself! The mining accident was so tragic. It was covered by the news stations here. It seems like you get many random days off work for conferences, holidays, etc. More time to travel! How is work? The social clubs are a great idea. Boggle is another great game to help with English vocabulary.

    I am so jealous of all of your adventures. Take it all in! It's funny to see that the most common theme in all of the posts is food. There are so many different options/versions of traditional meals. Keep being adventurous, but be careful about food poisoning. Our stomachs are not as resilient as the locals. I really look forward to your next post!