Sunday, July 31, 2011

Don't Shoot Your Servants

When we woke up this morning, we had a quick breakfast of borek, a Turkish pasty filled with meat and cheese.  Then, we attempted a long walk to a fort built on the old Roman wall, protecting the city from any land or water invasions.  The weather was hot and uncomfortable.   We trudged through a very poor part of Istanbul on the way to the seaside fortress.  This was very interesting to us, because, there were no tourists.  We saw many old run down walls and buildings along the way.
I found Yedikule Fortress quite interesting.  It was built by a ruler named Mehment the Conqueror in 1453 after he conquered the city of Constantinople changing it's name to Istanbul.  The fortress was a prison containing political prisoners.  In this very fort, Sultan Osman II was executed.  People thought he was a bad ruler.  It is said that he used his own servants as archery targets.  In the end, the sultan's own private guards, the Janissaries, dragged him across Istanbul to Yedikule.  We climbed up two towers in the fort, the prison tower and the execution tower.  In the execution tower, there was a room where the prisoners were tied to a plank and executed with arrows.  This chewed up plank can still be seen in the tower.  Viewing this made me feel sick.
 Attached to the fortress was the Roman city wall built in 412 AD.  It had three walls of defense, an outer moat, an outer wall, and an inner wall.  Today you can see the old moat, and much of the walls guarding the city.  Along the walls there are guard towers still intact!  Dad enjoyed the wall, but I was feeling enervated due to the languid weather.
After we viewed the wall, we wandered back to the old town and meet Huseyin and Dilek for dinner.  We had a nice dinner on top of a hotel near our guest house.  Then, we were dropped off at our hostel to write my blog and go to bed.  Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic! 

Please Note that as part of the email posting for China, pictures will be on a second post.

Don't Shoot Your Servant- Pictures

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Two Long Months

Today was a serious school day.  I completed a whole lesson of math and 100 pages of reading.  I had to do so much work because I have been busy sight seeing and visiting with Mom's friends over the last week in Istanbul.    
As of Monday, we will have been traveling for two months.  We also will be leaving Europe.  I found these two months quite interesting, and I have learned about countries, wars, people, and language.  I also have been enduring great home sickness.  I have missed my big fluffy stuffed dog that I have had since I was born.  I have missed my house and all my school friends.  We have still a long way to go on this trip, and it is a little bit scary.
On Monday, we will be taking a flight to Beijing. We will see Beijing for a couple days.  From there, we will travel across China to a volunteer medical clinic in Tibet.  We may not have internet or power.  The Chinese government has blocked my blogger company.  To get around this, we have to email my posts to blogger, and have them post it.  They make many mistakes, so except the unexpected!  Starting today, I will be testing out the email posting.  Please email me if you notice problems with the posts.(  
Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!      

Friday, July 29, 2011

Tourist Day In Istanbul

Today you could call us full time tourists.  We saw many interesting historical sights in the old town of Istanbul.  The pictures below describe the day:

There were many security guards around town with machine guns.

The Blue Mosque with minarets to call Muslims to prayer.
Beautiful ancient tiles within the Blue Mosque.

The Grand Bazaar, an ancient indoor shopping mall from the 1400s, was overwhelmingly huge and filled  with artifacts and some tourist junk.

Hagia Sofia, originally a Christian church built in the sixth century, was converted to a Muslim Mosque in the 1500s.  I was fascinated by the decorative Arabic script and by the fact that the Christians used the large dome architecture before the Muslims.

Carpet sellers are ubiquitous. They are very persistent in their attempt to sell beautiful, ancient carpets.
Wandering through the old town, brought us to an art gallery.  The artist was rude, insulting us and calling us cheap Americans when we would not buy his paintings.

We found a golden window facing from the palace walls where the Sultan would look down upon his people.

At the Spice Bazarr, we found amazing sheep's cheese made within the actual sheep skin, scarves, spices, ceramics, jewelry, and my favorite, Turkish Delight ( a very yummy Turkish candy.)

After our tourist day, we met Huseyin and his wife, Delik, for dinner.  Dad, Mom, Ulrika, and I a gave Huseyin and Delik a ceramic plate decorated with fish and a sail boat to remind him of our week.  We purchased this at the spice Bazaar.  This is Ulrika's last day in Istanbul, and we will miss her very much.

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Prince's Islands

Yesterday, I talked about the Black sea and Bosporus Straight.  The Black Sea is connected to a smaller body of water, the Marmara Sea, by the Bosporus.   The Marmara Sea then connects with the well known Mediterranean.  Many countries boarder the Black Sea, including Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Georgia and Turkey, which makes the Bosporus a vital trading route.  Ancient civilizations used these trading routes more than twenty thousand years ago.

Today, we were headed to an island off the coast of Istanbul which was said to have no cars.  The people who live there,  get around by horse drawn carriages.  This island is located in the Marmara sea.  In order to get to this island we had to cross the Bosporus and enter Asia.  Istanbul is divided into the northern part which is in Europe and the southern area which is in Asia.  After crossing the bridge, we then took a boat for the rest of the journey to the Prince's Islands.

The first thing we did on the island, was find a good beach to cool off before we started sight seeing.  This was no ordinary beach though.  The water was infested with jelly fish and women were swimming fully dressed in the Muslim tradition.  When we had cooled off, we took a carriage to a old town on the island.  I was fascinated with the use of horses to get around the island.  Horses were also being used to carry daily supplies like food and water.  This was interesting to me because I always thought carriages were just something for tourists and entertainment.  I did not know they were used as a functional means of transportation.  The main thing I noted about the old town was the immense number of fish markets.

After our day on the island, Ulrika, Huseyin and Mom dropped us off at home to get an early start on the blog.  They headed off to a nice restaurant, while Dad and I had a quick meal of kabobs on the street and got started on the blog. This has been a great bonding time for Mom, Ulrika, and Husyein.  They have been laughing and loving seeing each other again.

While writing this blog, I heard the exotic and sad Muslim call to prayer.  This is a reminder to the Muslim people that it is time to pray to their God, Allah.

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Two Relaxing Days on the Water

I am sorry that I missed a post yesterday, but I am back in full service.  Yesterday we woke up and headed straight for the beach.  When we got there, we saw to our great surprise, that the waves were huge.  We were swimming in the Black Sea.  The Black Sea is a huge body of water almost like a lake, but much larger.  It is almost the size of Germany.   Dad and I like to body surf, and we both took interest in the the size of the waves.  Towards the end of the day, we went to a restaurant to eat fish and end the day on a full stomach.  The drive home took two hours, and when we got there it was almost too late to brush our teeth let alone write a blog.

Beach on the Black Sea

Me in the Water, on the Black Sea

There is a large channel of water, called the Bosphorus, connecting the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. Istanbul lies on the other end of the Bosphorus from the Black Sea, at the Sea of Marmara. Today we spent our whole day on a rented yacht motoring up the Bosphorus towards the Black Sea.  I do not do our trip planning, but I heard that the renting of a yacht was a mistake.  Huseyin had really meant to rent a small motor boat.  I was glad we got a big yacht because I have never been on one before.  Our destination was a fine, relaxing swimming bay.  I jumped off the end of the boat and worked on my flips and dives. 

The Inside of the Yacht

Huseyin at the End of the Boat

My Parents Playing Guitar

Our Relaxing Lunch Spot

My Dive

After we got off the yacht, we heard that Huseyin could not  join us for dinner.  So Ulrika, my parents and I had a nice dinner in a small restaurant in an alley near our hotel.  We ate of many good meats and breads and we left the table with our stomachs filled.

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Istanbul At Last!

This morning around 2 o’clock, we were awakened by the Turkish boarder guards, telling us to get up and have our passports checked at the office outside.  Then, we like sheep, scrambled out to the cold boarder with all the other stressed tourists.  After we had endured the cold passport line outside, the official at the counter told us we needed to go to a different line and purchase a visa.  Once we had our visas, we gave another effort at the long line of insanity.  We finally left the boarder around 4 or 5 in the morning.  We all caught a couple more zzzzs and that, dear reader, began the story of my somnolent day.

I was soon aroused by my mother telling me to get up and pack my bag.  I eventually mustered up the strength to crawl out of my pitifully skinny bunk.  At approximately 9 o’clock, we had made it to the outskirts of Istanbul.  I quickly finished packing up my bag and then took some quick shots of the city from the train.  After thirty-five hours of travel, we had made it all in one piece to Istanbul.  When we had checked into our, thankfully air-conditioned, Hostel, we got ready to meet mom’s friends.  We had made it to Istanbul!

We spent the rest of the day with mom's friends, going from coffee shop to coffee shop talking about their early friendship. Ulrika, Huseyin, and Mom met as foreign students in Geneva, Switzerland in ninth grade.  This was a very meaningful time for all three of them, and they have not seen each other in 35 years.  Tonight, Dad and I decided to return to the hotel while mom and her friends continued their night life.  Dad and I are going to finish last night's movie.  I am excited to be healthy and able to take on the many days that come on this endless world trip. 

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic

The Long Train Ride

Last evening we arrived at the train station and jumped on a six hour train ride from Zagreb, Croatia to Belgrade, Serbia.  We had to pay for a sleeping car on the train because we were on such short notice.  The conductor said he could not take Croatian Kune, but wanted Dollars or Euros.  It was only supposed to cost 210 Kune, which is 42 Dollars.  He actually charged us 70 Dollars.  You have got to be careful in second world countries.  People might just rip you off.

We all had great anticipation for the longest train ride we had ever experienced.  From Zagreb to Belgrade, we all slept through the night.  In the morning, we changed trains in Belgrade and stocked up on food supplies. We were still a little tired from waking up early on our last train.  Today, we traveled across Serbia and into Bulgaria.  I did 3 or 4 hours of school work on the train. Out the window of the train, we saw many old and run down rural communities.  We passed many sunflower fields, all in full bloom.  After I finished my school work, my dad and I played Infinity Blade on the Ipad.  

Today, I experienced the longest train ride of my life and the biggest scare of my entire life.  Dad got off the train in Sofia, Bulgaria to get some food.  A few minutes after he left, the train started to leave.  Mom was at the front of the car screaming at the conductor to stop.  I was guarding our luggage alone in the compartment and started to break down and scream.  A couple French passengers from another compartment ran in and comforted me.  Well, the train was just backing up to attach additional train cars.  A couple minutes later, Dad got back on with water and food and helped me recover from the scare.  It took me a while too recover from my shock. 

Right at sun down, two nice Dutch college students came into our cabin. They are traveling together through Europe for one month.  Their names are Luc and Laurens.  We all shared food and talked about our different countries and our travels. Tonight, we will watch a movie and sleep on the train as we ride to Istanbul.

 Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic.