Istanbul - Part 1


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Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul
March 7th 2010
Published: March 11th 2010EDIT THIS ENTRY

First impressionsFirst impressionsFirst impressions

Istiklal, the long pedestrian street in the Taksim area
Istanbul seems like a younger city than Copenhagen - I mean the life here. It's kind of a hot mess - cars share the roads with trams and pedestrians - there don't seem to be set hours of operation - some kitchens stay open until 2 am - like the one I just got home from. It is such a contrast to Copenhagen, where grocery shops close at 17 or 18 and it’s nearly impossible to satisfy any late-night cravings. Here, you walk around and people try to herd you into their restaurants at what would be obscene Danish hours. Istanbul is colorful and vibrant and full of life, but not overwhelming like some other big cities that I've visited (New York City, for example).

The academic portions of the trip have been really ridiculously appropriate, varied, and interesting. Academic visits included but were not limited to:

• Istanbul Interparish Migrants’ Program: a not-so-legal interfaith organization to help non-Muslim minorities and refugees in Turkey
• Ayhan Kaya: professor of International Relations at Bilgi University, on “The impact of the Europeanization process on the perception of minorities in Turkey” and author of one of our textbooks
• meeting with young Armenian volunteers from Nor Zartonk (New Renaissance): a multi-lingual radio channel
• The Hrant Dink Foundation: an assassinated Armenian minority-rights activist
• Agos: bilingual Turkish-Armenian newspaper)
• Martin Selsøe Sørensen: DR correspondent on current events in the Middle East (he left the next morning to cover the elections in Iraq)
• TESEV: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation; about minority issues, specifically “the Kurdish question”
• meeting with sociology students from Bilgi University: roundtable debate on Turkish versus American university life and Turkey’s attitude and actions regarding the EU, followed by drinks and life-long friendship

We also checked out some cultural things, namely:
• Hagia Sophia
• Hippodrome
• Cemberlitas Hammam
• Grand Bazaar
• Blue Mosque
• Topkapi Palace

We had a lot of free time to explore on our own - or nap if necessary (which it never is). Even with the comparatively loose schedule, I was exhausted when I got back to Copenhagen. Istanbul was very stimulating and wore me out. But even though that I've gotten the initial shock of the city out of my system, the next time I go there will be just as wonderful, I'm certain of it!


Additional photos below
Photos: 6, Displayed: 6


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Hagia SophiaHagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia

Inside the Hagia Sophia/Aya Sofya, which is literally falling apart under its own weight. It's nearly 1400 years old!
Istanbul!Istanbul!
Istanbul!

Daphne and I have big big plans to come back to this amazing city. Here we are on the roof terrace of the restaurant where our class ate lunch.
Blue MosqueBlue Mosque
Blue Mosque

Inside the Blue Mosque. Unlike Aya Sofya, this is still an active mosque.


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