Saturday, December 15, 2012

Istanbul: Day 1

The Hagia Sophia at night.

Hey folks,

I returned from Istanbul on Tuesday but I did not get around to do a post on it because I had a buttload of work waiting here for me in Canterbury. The next day, I had an exam at 9 am and then an essay deadline at 11 pm. Need I say that I hadn't prepared for the exam or finished my essay? Thursday was even worse - a presentation directly followed by an exam and a night of writing yet another essay and editing two other assignments. Fortunately, it was all over by Friday at noon and I celebrated my freedom by going home and sleeping, haha. At night I went out with a couple of people I met on the trip to Istanbul and today, I spent some time in town, doing some last-minute Christmas shopping before I'm getting on the overnight coach that will take me home. Tomorrow, I'll be back in Germany for almost a month, I can't believe it! I'm sure that I'll miss all the lovely people I met here but right now, I'm just too excited to be home after three months (and seeing my boyfriend again, hihi).

So, Istanbul... I decided to do more than one post because I took about 400 pictures and I just experienced way too much to put it in one single post. Last Tuesday, we met at 6.15 am at the bus station in Canterbury, where our shuttle to Gatwick Airport picked us up at 7 am. Well... I should better say we were supposed to meet at that time because the last one to arrive was there at 6.50 am. Oh, and did I mention that that was our professor? We got used to his liberal interpretations of our meeting times fairly quickly. I guess if you are born and raised in Malta, you are just not used to people actually showing up on time, haha. On the way to the airport, it suddenly started snowing heavily and I got really concerned if our flight was delayed but when we arrived at Gatwick, all the snow had melted away. I have to say that I was kind of jealous of all my friends who were at campus when it snowed, it looked beautiful in the pictures they posted on Facebook and snow in Canterbury is really a really rare thing. Then I realised that I was on my way to Istanbul for a week and I was happy again ;).
The flight was amazing, we flew with Turkish Airlines and I haven't had that much luxury on a plane in a long time - free drinks and food, comfortable seats and a broad movie collection (for everyone who wants to know it - I re-watched 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II' on the way there and 'The Dark Knight Rises' on the way back and napped a bit). Because of the time difference (+ 2 hours), we arrived in Istanbul in the late afternoon and a shuttle picked us up to drive us to the hostel. Unfortunately, we ended up and the wrong hostel at first and our shuttle took off again but the guys there were really nice and we got to hang out in their lounge and watch the people on the streets until our shuttle came back again. Apparently, the driver did not really want to come back and someone overheard Norbert (our professor) talking on the phone to him, saying 'I'm gonna call the police if you don't come back.' Again, Mediterranean mentality I guess. It was all good when the shuttle came back and we finally reached our destination. I shared a room with three other girls - Caitlyn, Jade and Melissa - who are just adorable and awesome, we had a great time!
Then, we finally got to explore the city a bit and as we were all very hungry, we had our first original Turkish döner and I must say it really is better than German döner! They don't put any onions or sauce on it, so your breath smells way better than eating a German döner and the meat was so good, juicy and very well-seasoned. Oh, and we also had our first Baklava, I typical Istanbul dessert that accompanied us throughout the week, haha. I guess there was only one night when I didn't have it, it was just too good. But there was definitely more to explore than food: Our hostel was really close to the famous Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia, so on our way to the main street, we always passed through a square separating the two and they looked amazing at night. Again, apologies for my camera, it doesn't take the best pictures at night. Also, we enjoyed our first apple tea in Turkish lounge, which was really good and I got some later on that week to take it home with me.

Well, that was it for our first day. I will slowly get going now - my coach to Dover and then to Frankfurt leaves tonight and I'll be back in Marburg tomorrow in the afternoon. I can't wait to be back and see everybody again, especially because I'm going to a Handball game tomorrow in the early evening, I can't wait to see my favourite team play!

Lots of love from Canterbury,

Our luxurious shuttle to Gatwick Airport - we watched 'Superbad' on the way.

Yummy airplane food.

The Alps
The Meditarrenean cost of Turkey.

The group arriving at what we thought to be our hostel.
Chloe and Caitlyn hanging out in the lounge waiting for the shuttle to return.

Street vendors.

Fresh pomegranate juice - I tried it later that week and it was really good.

Freshly popped popcorn.

At the right hostel - finally!
My lovely roomates Jade and Caitlyn on their huge bed. There were some fights about the covers late at night... :)

Melissa on our bunkbed, I slept on the lower level.

Interesting hotel...

A Byzantine column

The square between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, the Minarett on the right belongs to the Hagia Sophia.

Chilling after a long day of travelling and listening to Norbert.

My first and definitely not last apple tea.

The Blue Mosque with a very blue fountain...

...that changed colours. I am not a fan of this new city kitsch.



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