Been without internet so I am having to catch up on my blogging. Hope you guys who read this are enjoying it.
Quick summary of my travel to Turkey. Left Georgia at 6:00 but because Georgia runs on what is known as Georgian Standard Time or EXTREMELY DELAYED we did not depart Bat'umi until 7:00PM. We boarded this packed bus for our overnight journey to Istanbul. We crossed the border out of Georgia without a problem and had to walk into to Turkey to find out where to get a visa so we could properly go through immigration. For Americans it is a 20 dollar expense but my friend Meaghan found out for Canadians its 60. She seems to think it is because Canada recognizes the genocide against Armenians by Turkey. We finally arrived in Istanbul after 12 noon the next day. The bus stopped several several times and we got to witness an awesome sunrise over Turkish hills in between swatting the largest mosquitoes I have ever seen. 7 coworkers and I rented a flat in a nice part of Istanbul called Taksim Square. This place was really cool because we got to see anti-government protests just about daily. The communists were out just about every day while the larger parties were more visible on weekends. The protests are leading up to the national referendum on September 12th that would modify the constitution of Turkey. If I were a Turk I would be voting No or Hayir!
I encourage you to go to my Facebook profile www.facebook.com/jasonkylebrown to check out all of my pictures from Turkey. If you are not my Facebook friend I will add and will not be offended. In one of the pictures you will see a teenager dressed up in an Ask Me! shirt. This is an incredible idea for areas that have large amounts of tourists. The students do this for the summer and simply walk around heavy tourist areas and if you need directions to a place or help you simply ask. We asked a guy for some facts on the Blue Mosque and it turned into him giving us a full tour.
While we were at the Grand Bazaar I met a guy named Suleyman who worked at a local book shop. I was looking for a book to learn some simple Turkish and he spoke English thus making it easier for me to find said book. A simple book purchase turned into the 5 of us who were there sitting around talking with Suleyman over cups of Apple Tea! Amberly, Ali, and I went back to visit Suleyman a few days later for him to show us around different parts of the city. That turned out to be an invitation to his house and dinner with his family. The Turkish fest was incredible considering it was during Ramazan so it was the first thing his family had eaten all day. We spent hours eating, talking, watching Turkish TV, and learning about one another. The meal ended but the food and drink did not. Dinner transformed into baklava, which gave way to Turkish coffee, followed by chai (Turkish for tea), then an assortment of fruits like pears, apples, and grapes. I met with Suleyman the night before I left Istanbul and we went to an outdoor concert outside the Blue Mosque which was part of Jazz in Ramazan. We talked about modern Turkey, Christianity/Islam, politics, and life.
I enjoyed Turkey 500 times more than I thought I would. I plan on using my visa to get back there very soon. I have left out tons of details but I must move on to different topics now.