I spent Saturday visiting Emigran Park, one of the biggest parks in Istanbul. There were playgrounds, fountains, benches, picnic tables and workout areas. In April, they have a Tulip Festival in Istanbul, with over 20 million tulips! After I left the park, I walked along the Bosporus, watching the fisherman. I then went to Pierre Loti Hill where I took a cable car to the top and had delicious apple tea, while I enjoyed the beautiful view. I walked down a path that wound through a large cemetery.
After the workshops on Wednesday, I was able to explore the city of Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey with a population of over 15 million people. It is an old city, thousands of years old, and used to be called Constantinople. The Greeks and Romans both had this city as the center of their empires. I explored the old part of the city today, walking around the Topkapi Palace grounds, seeing the square where chariot races were held, and visiting an underground cistern (a source of water in the past.) Sixth graders, how well do you remember your Greek myths? Why do you think Medusa's face is carved into some of the columns in the cistern?
There was also a festival being held where woman who needed a job were trained to make crafts, and they were selling their crafts at booths.
Today after my workshops, I took a taxi to the Galata Tower, down by the part of the Bosporus Strait known as the Golden Horn. It was built in 1348 (more than 500 years ago!) to help defend the city against attack. At the top of the tower, you can go outside and walk completely around it to get a view of the city. You can read the captions to learn more!
The conference I am at is for school librarians from all over the world to meet and share ideas. At the opening ceremonies, one member from each of the thirty-six countries represented at the conference was selected to come on stage with their country’s flag to represent their country; I was selected to be the United States representative - can you find me in the photo? At night we went on a dinner boat cruise on the Bosphorus Strait, a body of water connecting the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara. Did you know a small part of Turkey is in Europe and the rest is in Asia? On the boat we could see both continents! Read the captions for more information on my day!
The opening ceremony for the conference also included a performance by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Ottoman Band.
Jonathan asked a great question - what is the first food I've had that we don't eat here. Last night, I went exploring with two school librarians from Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean off the coast of East Africa (near Kenya, where we helped create a school library!). We walked past shops, saw a wedding party and had dinner. To answer Jonathan's question, the first food I ate that I haven't had before is Kuzu Paca (trotting feet soup). The broth was delicious - full of garlic; the “trotting feet” - I think their purpose was to give the broth flavor! This morning for breakfast, I had a few more new things including grape molasses, which I put on my yogurt (delicious!), turkish scrambled eggs, turkish sausage, chicken ham and dates still on the stem.
We walked around the neighborhood of Sisli near our hotel. Here are some of the things we saw.
One of the questions I have been asked many times by students when they found out I was traveling to Turkey was "Do they have turkeys in Turkey?" I did research on Pebble Go (see the photo below) and found out that turkeys are native to North America. I also discovered Turkey is the 4th largest producer of tomatoes, and the top supplier to the world of figs, apricots, hazelnuts and raisins. One fourth of the roses in the world come from Turkey; I hope to see flowers while I'm here!
On Saturday at 1:30 in the afternoon, I got on a plane which flew directly to Istanbul, Turkey. In the video below, you can see the path the plane took. It was about a nine and a half hour flight, and I had to put my watch ahead seven hours because of the time zone difference; can you figure out what time I arrived?
The person sitting next to me was a nice woman name Beytul. She was visiting friends in New York City for a week and returning to Ankara, the capital of Turkey. To get there, she was flying to Istanbul and getting on another plane to Ankara. She spoke very little English, and I spoke very little Turkish (see the words and phrases I learned below), so we communicated with our phones, using Google Translate and lots of smiles!
Turkish Words and Phrases
What do you want to know about Turkey? I will do my best to get answers for you. It's time for a short nap; it's 8:00 am here in Istanbul, but my body thinks it's 1:00 am. Elveda!