My time on Indonesia Media Tours has always been a unique and
adventurous mix of cultures and traditions. Through this specific tour I have ridden
a camel, witnessed the mystic whirling dervishes, and watched history take its place
in modern-day Turkey, so it is a shame that we have come to the final closing of the
tour. We have made a full circle around Turkey and come back to our starting point,
Istanbul. To this familiar city we say hello, one last time.
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque stands across from the Hagia Sophia, towering
over the people with its turrets and massive dome. While it is intimidating to be
between these two behemoths, it is worthy to note that size is where the similarities
The exterior of the Blue Mosque may not be as colorful as the exterior of the
Hagia Sophia, but its interior is what makes the mosque so famous, and also where
it got its nickname, Blue Mosque. Lining the interior of the Blue Mosque is more
While the tiles at the lower level are traditional in design, the tiles near the gallery
level are flamboyant in color and design. When the mosque was being built, the
sultan decreed that the price of the titles stay at a fixed rate. The price of tiles,
however, was rising, so while the price stayed the same the quality of the tiles
Because of this decreased quality, the tiles have lost their glossy finish
and vibrant colors over time. From red to blue-white, the tiles have given the
mosque its famous nickname, the Blue Mosque, and made the mosque a tourist
Before we could
enter the mosque, a long line of people stood in front of the
entrance. Fortunately, we were at least able to beat the rush of the other tourist
groups. Since the Blue Mosque is currently still used as a place of worship, we were told to take off our shoes and store them in provided plastic bags.Â As we walkedÂ throughout the mosque we saw,
various people praying in specified areas asÂ tourists took in the view of the handmade tiles.
After I exited the mosque I spotted a
vendor by the exit creating a colorful sweet. Once I came closer I realized that the
sweet creation he was forming was simply put, sugar on a stick. Soft sugar with a
honey-like consistency was spun around a stick and sold like popsicles. After being
intrigued by the spectacle of his sugar wrapping skills, I purchased a colorful, sugary
stick of my own. I found out however that eating it was a trick in and of itself. With
the sugar falling towards my hand, creating a sticky mess, to the over-sweet flavor, I
knew that the wonder of the sweet was no longer evident. It became what I should
have seen it as at first, a stick with melted sugar and syrup around it. Since I was
now craving some real food, it was comforting to know that our next stop was the
Since the Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in
the world, containing over 58 covered streets and over 4,000 shops, it’s no wonder
that it attracts up to half a million visitors per day. Fortunately we were able to beat
the massive crowds by instead venturing into the Spice Bazaar. Though it is the
second largest covered market in Istanbul, it still holds some of the same types of
shops that the Grand Bazaar has.
Some of the shops sell spices, carpets, jewelry,
carpets, antiques, and even glassware. I saw some very interesting top of
the line glassware myself, which included both lamps and hookahs (waterpipes).
The spices sold in the stores ranged from endless varieties, from saffron to cumin
my nose could smell it all.
My quest for hunger, however, could not be fulfilled by
the mountains of spices lining the storefronts, and the belly dancer styled clothing
only made me think of the dances my belly would do if I did not get any food into it.
My requests were met however when I spotted a store selling freshly cooked goat
meat. The smell of the food was noticeable from about nine stores away. I enjoyed
my goat meat sandwich with a nice soda as our group walked back to the bus. The
Spice Bazaar is by no means an isolated area, even though it is smaller than the
Grand Bazaar. By seeing the crowds at the Spice Bazaar, I can’t even begin to
wonder what walking through the Grand Bazaar would have been like.
Finishing theÂ last of the sandwich and the soda, I stepped back onto the bus ready for our next
destination in Istanbul.