Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Weekend in Turkey!

Istanbul, Turkey is only an hour and a half flight from Athens.  I never would have dreamed of going to Turkey and I am so thankful to have experienced such a different world.
Enjoyed my first alcoholic beverage on a plane hehe

There was about 15 of us a in group that left Athens for Turkey on a Thursday night.  We got a delicious meal on the short plane ride.

Once we arrived we had to purchase these little red tokens in order to get on the tram.  It took us like half and hour to figure it out and exchange euro for "leera" (how they pronounce their currency).
It was awesome that 2 leera = 1 euro!

It took us over and hour to get to and find out hostel, The stray cat hostel haha.
It smelled like cat pee and there was literally cats outside and a few inside, but this wasn't too much of a surprise considering all the stray animals in Athens.

We arrived at about 11 pm and i crashed in my little cot, in my jeans haha. But apparently, others went out for a drink but I was knocked out.

Friday morning, a small group of us set out to see the one and only "Blue Mosque".  I have seen it in magazines and knew this was very important to Istanbul. I quickly learned that they call it "Sultan Ahmed". It was built between 1609-1616.

Can you say WOW?
The courtyard

Reminded me of Aladdin :)
Architecture: It has 6 Minarets, hard to see them all in one pic! ^
Design is a culmination of two time periods: Ottoman & Byzantine.

beautiful details.
It wasn't the most gorgeous day, but my pictures don't do justice for how beautifully designed the mosque was.
Look here to see some great photos! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sultan_Ahmed_Mosque

Next up: Basilica Cistern. 
To me, this was a diamond in the rough experience because I had not heard much about it & it is underground!

Again, it was hard to take pictures because of the lighting but it was so neat down there. This one might have been my favorite sight.
Basically, the cistern provided a water filtration system of The Palace of Constantinople and other buildings in 1453 and into modern times. Its about 450 ft by 215 ft.
There is 336 marble columns which are 30 ft high arranged in perfect measurements.
I think the coolest part is that the cistern is surrounded by a fire brick wall with a thickness of 4 meters! Water ain't goin' nowhere ;)

Here is Medusa, my friends.
They put her upside down because if you look at her in the eye you will turn to stone!

Cool fact: This cistern was used in a scene in "From Russia with Love" James Bond. But I never saw it!
Maybe you have :)

Next was the Hagia Sophia.
Mosque turned into a museum

Cross eyed cat just chillin in the mosque

Had to wear these inside so we bought some turkish scarves :)

On Saturday Night, I really wanted to see the Whirling Dervishes which are a cultural dance in Turkey. However, we found Turkish Dance Night that seemed way neater & it definitely was one of my favorite things of the trip. It took place at the Hodjapasha cultural center which held about 30 people so it was unique :)

Complimentary Turkish Delight & wine.

My favorite part! Neon lighting.

Come Sunday, the trip was almost over...
We did not have much time on Sunday, so we decided to take a boat to Asia....& NO I am not joking :)
90% of Turkey is in Asian and 10% which includes part of Istanbul is in Europe.
We took a boat and it only took about 20 minutes!
So, yes I hit up 2 continents in 30 minutes. You have every right to be jealous ;)

Look at all the jellies!


I miss my friend, Soccer.

We also went the Spice Bazaar and Grand Bazaar, which are just plain bazaar!
They are these long tunnels of stores that make you feel like you walked a million miles.
We never got the end but we tried.

Crazy types of spices, they even had shark cartilage.
TEA! I got apple, it is amazing.

Turkish Delight, pretty interesting.

My fav was cinnamon. I hope it lasts for home!

Hope you enjoyed my mini adventure,  Turkey is awesome. & I highly recommend traveling there!
The rest are just good times in Istanbul :)

Of course I fit in....

I got my candy for free ;) No big deal...

Churros soaked in honey or something....wow yum.

I wanted one so bad! Dont worry I refrained...

Off for some Turkish bar dancing in Taxim.

Favorite Pic of the Weekend, those 3 girls just make this picture.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Aegina Island!

This might be one of the coolest day trips I have ever been on!

Aegina is just a 45 minute hydrafoil ride away from Athens.  We all took off early Friday morning and took the metro to the last stop called Piraeus.  It is a port and I have wanted to get off here, so I am glad to say that I have :)  I love boats so it was really cool to see them all. Here is one:

Ready to gooo
We arrived around 10:30 am and started to explore the gorgeous island.

a little mini harbor
Welcome to the island of Aegina---known for their pistachios! :) I tried them, delish.

So the cars on this island are pretty small.  If you don't have a small car you have a moped.  My classmates and I found this little shop that rents mopeds for the day and it was cheap so of course it was a matter of minutes before I was speeding away.

I drove and Kellye sat on the back.  I have one really similar at school so I was lucky.  Other kids in my group weren't so lucky haha. One pair slid off and another hit the side of the car but were okay.  That is why you should go slow around the corners!!!!
Don't worry mom, I'm a safe driver ;)

We rode around for 3 hours and it was a blast.
This is the high point that had such a pretty view. I didn't want to leave!

Behind me you can see all the windy roads.

After that we drove around looking for ruins and had a great time looking at all the small cottages people live in.  You really don't need much to live a happy life, especially if this is your front yard view!

Huge church we came across!

At the end of the day, we were pretty pooped and had some dinner & then headed back via hydrafoil.

The island looked beautiful.