I have had the most amazing few days... It all began on Wednesday 27th travelling from Ruse to Sofia (5 hours) to meet the other students for our coach to Istanbul. After long journey no.1 we went to Sofia Mall to chill out and eat before long journey no.2 at 11pm. We met the other 100+ students at Alexander Nevski Cathedral and got on our coach, taking stops ever few hours throughout the journey and arriving at the Bulgarian/Turkish border at 5am. It took forever to get our visas, paying £10 to get int country. We arrived in Istanbul at about 12:00 and went to our hotels (as there were so many students we were in two separate hotels). The hotel was very basic but I was just happy to have a comfortable bed instead of a chair on the coach! Had a nap then met the group at 3pm to go exploring Istanbul and get to know a few people. We visited the most famous mosque (because of it's six towers instead of the tradtional four), the Blue Mosque, also called 'Sultanahmet', and were able to go inside, first covering our heads with a head scarf and removing our shoes.
The building was gorgeous, really high decorated celings, candles, monuments inside. It was lovely. We also heard the call to prayer (on a number of occasions including the early hours of the morning!!!) which was interesting to listen to, the different mosques in the area calling and responding to eachother prayers.
On the Friday we got up early, had breakfast then got on the train to the Bosphorus to catch a tour boat around the island. The weather wasn't great, but still dry and we have some lovely picures of the land, and a bridge joining Europe and Asia. It would have been amazing to bungee jump that bridge however there was no ropes so it wasn't an option! In the afternoon we visited an underground resourvoir called 'Yerebatan' which was gorgeous! We entered down some stone steps to a cool, dim lit room covered in water with pathways around. The arched roof reflecting on the water made the pictures we took fantastic and i could have stayed down there all day! Inside, we also got the opportunty to have some funny pictures in traditional Turkish wear so got some great snaps of us all dressed up!
Afterwards we visited
the Grand Basaar, a Turkish indoor market full of stalls to buy souvenirs and traditional crafts, where bartering is a must!
Had a night out in the evening with some other studetns however did not drink any alcohol as is was 25 lera (£12) for a shot of vodka and 10 lera (£5) for a lager!!! Still had a great night, dancing to both chart and tradtional Turkish music.
Saturday was the best day... it was fantastic! I think I smiled all day, literally! We got up early again and got onto another boat trip to one of the Prince's Islands to visit. We arrived at about 1pm, sun shining and headed into the town. The six of us decided to hire bikes to explore the island better so got four normal bikes and a tandum and set off on our adventure. It was amazing cycling around the town and though the woods (like being at centre parks but better obviously!), the sun shining through the trees, the wind blowing in our faces., horse and carriage passing us by. We stopped for a picnic and for some picures, taking turn on the tandum (hilarious!) to give it a go. When
we set off again, me and Emily were able to put our first aid to use as our friend had a nasty fall off her bike. She was ok, after taking a police motor bike to hospital to get her wrist x-rayed and strapped up! Sat by the water, toes dipped into the Marmara sea, ice cream in hand and watched the world go by till we had to return on the boat at 5pm.
Started our long jounrey back on Sunday at 11am, returning in Sofia at about 10pm, then the bus back from Sofia at 12:30am and back in Ruse for 5am! Had a very long sleep and relaxing Monday ready to et back to work and back into the swing of things for Tuesday when our teacher from University arrives to assess our progress!
Loving every minute of my time here... living the dream! The travel bug has returned!! 😊
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