Monday, January 14, 2008

Italian towns and Turkish nights

video
Greetings after my lazy break from blogging. Please trust me when I say that I have many ideas to blog, but for now, I am simply going to tell stories from my travels this winter break. But those ideas will come out as coherent ideas that will make you laugh and weep and want to fall in love... either with a girl or Jesus. Or at least thats the hope. But for now, stories.

For those who were not aware (most of you), I had the opportunity to go to Istanbul, Turkey (Constantinople for those who are really old school) for five days and hang out with friends there. Amos, Joel and Kanda accompanied me on this crazy adventure. Because of this trip, I have now been to Asia (Istanbul is half in Europe and half in Asia, separated by water), been hummumified (aka Turkish Baths), and drank more Turkish tea that... ah who am I kidding, it was delicious. Highlights, you ask? Highlights I will give.

We will start out with the first night. We went to a restaurant that one of our friends recommended for the iskender, this amazing Turkish dish. It was hilarious because the waiter kept talking to Amos because Amos is of Filipino descent and so looks like he might be from that area. Amos had no idea what he was saying, but Dan translated some of the gems. The waiter called Amos his blood brother and at one point asked Dan, "Where did you find him?" Hi-stinkin-larious. We hit up a cafe with live music after, where we drank more (you guessed it) tea and danced the night away. Turkish dancing is... unique. Think turkish music with Big Fat Greek Wedding style dancing. Oopa! Check out the video for an idea.

Turkey was cut from a different cloth than Italy. The bazaar, the call to prayer, the spice vendors (so colorful, I loved it), fish markets, SNOW, muslim culture, smell of the sea... it was all so incredibly different than Rome. I went in my first mosque, saw more meerschaum pipes than ever before (really cool, really intricate, really expensive if you get a good one), ate like a king... until the money ran out... and then I still ate well because the bread and doner kebab is amazing and cheap. And I got to experience a Turkish bath. What an experience. A couple things about that. First, you have a towel on the whole time, so dont get any locker room shower ideas in your mind. Second, I had no idea that I had that much dead skin on my. Quite fascinating actually. And third, when they scrub you down and give you a massage, man do they give you a massage if you get the right guy. The guy giving Joel a massage looked like he was wrestling him. Seriously, it was hilarious.

So before adventures in Turkey though, I had adventures throughout italian towns close to Rome. Me, Amos, Kanda and Matt Reis and his brother Adam (who was visiting) went to Orvieto, this little town on side of a cliff. More or less. It is the kind of town that you can walk around the whole town in a day (we did) and it has small town beauty to it. And an amazing view. You have to take this little cable car to the actual city and once there, you are treated to a impressive view of the Italian country side around you. I think more than anything, we enjoyed the silence and break from Rome. And there was an ice rink next to the Duomo so you know it is a classy place. The other place I went was Ostia Antica with Sara and Amos. If you are ever in Rome, I highly recommend Ostia Antica. It was the port city of Rome, but the coastline and trade routes changed and the city was abandoned. So now it is ruins that you are free to explore. Me and Amos wrestled in the palestra (gym) of the main bathhouse. You can go into the ruins, on them, under them... truly a walk through time. Well... thats about it from me... fill you in more on life later. Much love. Leave messages as always. And pray for Rome.
The Rome STINTers in Turkey... and yes that is a Starbucks in Joel's hand.
I loved the fact that Istanbul is on the water.
A great picture to show the clash of cultures in the Hagia Sofia. This was built as a church in the 5th century, converted into a Mosque the Constantinople was conquered and now is a museum. The mosaic of Mary and Jesus was uncovered in restoration after conversion to a museum. Formerly it was painted over because you cant have images in a mosque.
The Blue Mosque, the first functioning mosque I have ever been in
The sweet Turkish cafe where we went dancing

One of my favorite pictures from the Turkey trip... I am the one on the far left
I loved this pic. The sky was... breathtaking.
I dont know if you can tell the amazing view I am looking at.
Orvieto was quiet and beautiful... (amos, kanda, adam reis, matt, me)
The secret garden... I had fun exploring the ruins of old houses
The theatre in Ostia Antica was pretty sweet... we put on our own show "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers..." bonus points if you know what that is from
Standing on an ancient mosaic

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