On Saturday I got home from a 10 day trip to Istanbul. I went for a law school human rights clinic but was lucky to also get in a few days of sightseeing. The project was incredible--I can't express what a refreshing change it is to get hands on experience after endless classroom hours! Turkey is amazing in every way, and its history is incredible.

I love to travel for so many reasons--I love learning about other cultures and parts of the world and the introspection and gratitude that typically follows the trip. I love the many people that I meet that I probably wouldn't have otherwise...from my colleagues that I traveled with (that I now call dear friends), to the random people on the plane and in the country (on the way back I sat next to a guy named Greg who was an RN while The Little Fockers was playing. We both thought that was pretty funny), to my advisors and the people at the NGO. Travel always seems to give me such perspective.

Here are a few highlights:

First the mosques:

 These were taken inside the Hagia Sophia. Incredibly ornate mosque. Originally a Christian church but was later covered and converted to a Muslim mosque. It's neat to see symbols from both religions in one building.

Some Christian symbols outside the mosque that were parts of the original Christian church here

Donna and I inside the Hagia Sophia

A view from outside the Hagia Sophia. We also happened upon Jasmine's father the Sultan.

Inside my favorite mosque, the Blue Mosque. The entire inside is tiled and breathtaking. Someday I'm going to model my kitchen after this interior . :)

One of the domes of the Blue Mosque

In front of the Blue Mosque. There are street vendors all over selling chestnuts and corn. I thought the corn was actually pretty gross and kept thinking of Nacho Libre (get that corn outta my face)

Gates at Topkapi Palace that lead into the Assembly Hall. This palace was used just before the last palace that was built, so was still in use by sultans just before WWI. In the precious stones section they have a gorgeous 86 carat diamond. 

Also inside Topkapi Palace

Istanbul University

Food shopping and the bazaars:
Turkish delight is sold all over. This picture was from the Spice Bazaar (one of my favorite places to visit). Double pistachio and pomegranate are the best!! 

 Aren't these Hookah's gorgeous? (Dave thought it was funny that I took a picture of these)

 The colors in this shop were amazing-and I've never seen so many bells, sequins and beads.

 Love the flower markets in European countries, the flowers are always fresh and cheap. I wish we had more of these in the US.

 Yum. Kebabs. The lamb and chicken kebab I ate here was the best thing I had while I was in Turkey. 

 Traditional Turkish fare. Not quite as good as the Kebabs. 

Fresh fruit market at night. Amazing.

Fresh squeezed pomegranate juice. Even more amazing.

Nathalie and Mani posing by one of the walls of spices at the Spice Bazaar.

Essential oils and aromas in the Spice Bazaar.

Turkish delight, baklava and other sweets.

The carpet guy in the Grand Bazaar. These carpets are amazing. For about an hour we got an awesome carpet education from this guy and talked about everything from the symbols, colors, dyes, aging process, and of course about what it would take for us to actually buy one from him. 

Some of my favorite people from the trip:

Donna, Nathalie and I. Love these girls.

This little lady sits outside the Spice Bazaar and sells wheat to feed the pigeons.

 The Canfields from the branch in Turkey. Pretty amazing couple, and pretty incredible branch.

Our group at our last dinner. Great group to work with, and Donna and Nathalie were the best travel partners!
Design by Kelly Brito