I was hesitant to come to Istanbul because of the unrest in the neighboring countries. Istanbul hasn't been affected, but everyone I talked with about the situation said how deeply worried they are about the refugees. Things that have struck me the most about the Turkish people have been:
- The respect for other cultures and religions. Religions co-exist in harmony and respect. How far is our country from this! We still have so much to learn!
The Blue Mosque Inside the Blue Mosque. I look like a local :-)
Posing with a soldier at the Palace
Jeff at the market's entrance
- People are so, so well educated. They're courteous and attentive. They're so smart! Like in pretty much all of Europe, they speak more than two, three, and even four languages. I made sure I know how to say at least "Thank you" in Turkish instead of expecting everyone to speak English. I'm in their country, for the love! But to my utter surprise and delight, a lot of people speak Spanish.
- The know how to cheer for their soccer team. We went to the Champions League opener game between Galatasaray and Atletico Madrid, and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
|Cheering for each player|
- They're serving sizes are appropriate. The soda I got at the stadium equaled the child's size in the US.
- the respect for animals. There are cats roaming all over town, and they seem well taken care of and fed. Our tour guide told me today that the government controls the animal population, by placing micro-chip in their ears and making sure they're healthy. Yesterday, this beautiful mama cat sat by me in my first outing into Istanbul, by the Bosphorus.
- There are so many libraries and bookshops. I have zero knowledge of Turkish music, literature, or art. I'm determined to learn more.
Today we had a private guide to the old city, and he took us to a carpet weaving store. Of course, immediately after we entered the store, we had about five people wanting to sell us a carpet. They're gorgeous, those carpets. But we hadn't planned on buying any, so we didn't. But the store people sure tried. The "boss" came and talked to us and was actually super nice. His name was Gengis and his ringtone was from "The Godfather." I loved it! You can't make stuff like this up. Real life is crazy, and beautiful, and weird!
I'm ready to explore more of this wonderful city. Now I'm going to snuggle with my kindle and The Historian, which I read a long time ago, but I'm in the mood for some vampire stories. See you tomorrow!