At about midpoint of our stay in Istanbul we are starting to discover more and more about this wonderful city. The vastness of the city’s boarders is remarkable, and it seems nearly impossible to try and absorb it all. During the week we each are starting to get into our daily routines. For me it is simple: wake up and percolate Italian style coffee, walk to class and get a “fresh filter coffee” from Starbucks, usually eat çorba (chorba) for lunch (lentil soup), work on projects, finally leave Accent and usually buy a dürüm (meat wrapped goodness) on my way home.
One new activity that we have discovered lately is bowling. We are all pretty average, and content if we bowl over 100. By the time we leave accent, get food, do homework, take a nap, relax, it is about 10pm, coincidentally when cosmic bowling starts. The bowling alley we go to is about 1 mile away on Istiklal, on the 5th floor of a Burger King. By the end of the 3 games there was a wide range of scores from 43 to a staggering 170 by Jack! Jack also managed to squeeze in a turkey (3 strikes in a row), in Turkey! In the end my scores were 97, 101, and 140, nearly getting a turkey myself in the 10th frame of my final game!
After a late night of bowling on Friday we had an early wake up to take a day trip to Bursa with the grad students. Bursa is a city along the eastern coast of the Marmara that is about 2 hours away by boat. Bursa is a city of just over 2 million people, so a small town relative to Istanbul. There is a definite change of pace that was noticed when we started walking around. Bursa is drastically less dense, and much slower moving. It was relaxing to get out of the hustle bustle nature of Istanbul and take a day trip to a new unknown place.
Our day was headlined by a trip to the Ülu Cami (Grand Mosque), built in the end of the 14th century. We could not have picked a more beautiful day to walk around. It was a bit chilly and windy but the sun was shinning!
Before boarding the buses Sam, Skyler, and I wandered off the beaten trail and made our way up into the residential part of the city. We came to an area of the city where the urban meets the landscape. We left the cobblestone roads and found ourselves trudging through troughs of mud alongside barbwire fence and farms. Eventually the trees and plants opened up to reveal to us the mountainous countryside of Bursa. We were a bit nervous we were in a place we shouldn’t have been; but we were reassured after being passed by a leathery man smoking a cigarette on a tractor that gave a solemn smile and a nod. All in all Bursa was an amazing city. The food was great, the prices were right, and the landscape was beautiful. We are sure to return before this trip is over!