We started in Istanbul. On the first day we asked the cab driver to take us to the 'hippodrome' which is an ancient racetrack up by the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia. Of course 'hippodrome' really only means race track. So he drove us 30 min outside of the city to the modern racetrack guarded by the Turkish military, and then kicks us out of the car. That was a fun one to fix, but making your getting lost mistakes in the beginning always kind of takes the pressure off. In any case we eventually made it to all the big beautiful places. Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia included.
Istanbul is laid out in a particular way so that every selling the same thing is on the same street or in the same neighborhood. So you end up with a whole hillside full of plumbing equipment, and a street full of LEDs, an entire shop selling soldering irons.
I went to visit my old physics teacher who now lives in Bahcesehir. I got to meet a lot of really cool boys who are at the school he works at, one of them will be an incoming freshman at MIT next year, andone of them won the Turkish National Science Competition.
He then introduced us to his friend in the Grand Bazaar, so no one tried to steal our money, and we got good deals, and we also got to go into his workshop and see the guys to do the copper carving for
his lamps, which are really beautiful.
After Turkey we proceeded to Israel. We were staying in Tel Aviv, which is a much less religious city, and it is on the beach, and it was wonderful. We did visit Jerusalem and saw my orthodox cousin, who is 18 and is 100% sent on being married within the year and having a million children, so it was really interesting to talk to her.
While we were in Israel we also wen't to Jordan for a little while. Jordan is a fascinating place because it is so incredibly different from the western world. The infrastructure basically doesn't exist. There are a lot of bedouins, but nomadic and settled. Jordan has been making a big effort to settle the bedouins, and have been building them houses, which are actually nicer than the tin shacks or unfinished grey brick houses most people live in. In any case we got to go to Petra, which was amazing. Just as amazing as National Geographic wants you to think it is.
Bedouins in the Jordanian Desert: Petra:
Then it was back to Tel Aviv for a week or so, and then 17 hours on airplanes to get home. One of the coolest things about Tel Aviv, though, is all of the street art, its everywhere, and some of it is actually interesting.
Anyway, I'm home now and trying to kill the time until I start working.