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!


  1. It looks like so much fun. PS I love your scarf

  2. Wow! What an incredible experience!

  3. I laughed out loud at the comment about Jasmine's father. I hope you bought something with bells and sequins on it.

  4. Lizzy, I would love to travel longer in Turkey. I am impressed with the additional food for your resume, but mostly for your brain and spirit. I feel as you do. My favorite traveling is to other cultures and the realization that people are basically the same in terms of their needs, joys and dreams. The pictures are wonderful. . . thanks for sharing. Love, Grandma Phyllis and Grandpa Rollie

  5. What a fun opportunity! I thought the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque were both breathtaking in their size and history. And Istanbul is such a fascinating mix of European and MIddle Eastern culture! How great that you are taking of advantage of such cultural experiences!

  6. Yay! So glad you had such a great experience. You deserve it :) What an amazing place to visit . . . it was on my list before, but now I really want to see it.

    Germany had all those markets, flowers, fruit, etc. I wish America would copy that!

    Love ya friend!

  7. I can not tell you how excited I am that you were able to experience Turkey... though haven't been there for over 18 years I still remember the details of that wonderful place! Aren't the people incredible... did you get to have vişne juice. That was always my favorite:). Lets talk soon Lizbeth... lots to get caught up on!

  8. Wow, what an amazing trip! How cool do you feel being able to say, "Soooo, I just got back from Istanbul..."

    I know I would feel pretty neat : )

  9. Lizzy! I can't believe you went to Turkey! That has always been a dream of mine. I loved reading about your trip, and I can't wait to see your pictures (our internet isn't strong enough here so I'll have to wait until I get back - I'm bummed!!!).

    I remember you going to Africa to volunteer for Mothers Without Borders!!! I met one of the ladies that runs it at church, and Jude and I are going to go and stay a couple of days at the orphanage. Were you at the one right outside of Lusaka? And I will surely look for your friends at church. I'll let you know if I see them!

  10. What an amazing experience! Love the scarf you are wearing in the picture with the corn! Miss you tons!

  11. A couple of my employees were from Turkey .. amazing people! I have some of the coolest gifts from the two of them. What a great opportunity for you!!

  12. Okay so it all looks wonderful and amazing but I'm a little surprised you didn't at least mention your surprise skype visitor...after all I'm sure that was one of the highlights! Loved seeing you sitting in front of a Turkish Hotel sconce.

  13. Liz, my word what an experience! Talk 'bout a chalk it up on the cool board. My favorite of all your post was, that you really got to see Jasmine's father (I thought it was just a cartoon) and "get that corn outta my face". I bet the mosques were an eye opening experience. When you see how much others care about their religion, it's a check to be sure we care and reverence ours just as much. You know? Thanks for the post.

  14. SO NEAT! How fun they had chestnuts! Made me miss Hungary. We really need to do a trip together sis :)


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