Turkey was amazing!!!! My friend put me in touch with her friend (Deniz) who is from Istanbul and he was an amazing host. He picked me up from the airport, took me all around the city, out to delicious meals, and even over to Asia. Istanbul is a HUGE city. There are 14 million people who live there and half of it is in Asia. It sits on the sea of marmara so everything is about the water. The good restaurants etc. are the ones with the views. My hostel had a rooftop that looked over the water and the whole city (will post picture later), it was so beautiful. So Deniz and I drove up Bosphorous which is the main road along the water and we went all the way to the edge of the city- stopping intermittently for coffee/beer. We drove for a few hours and saw the city from a bunch of different view points it was really incredible. Then we went to Taksim square and though there were no riots there were loads of riot police. I didn’t realize that 5 people had been killed in the riots and that the police were actually targeting people with tear gas canisters and killing them. I think the people have a huge right to be pissed! Off of Taksim there is a cool pedestrian street filled with shops and restaurants. I stopped to buy some perfume because I was starting to smell like a dirty hippie :-). There were some really funny spellings in Istanbul also. Taxi= taksi and whiskey= viski. The next day we went to the gran bazaar and the Egyptian bazaar. It was a little touristy but very cool all the same. The smell of spices was so strong and bright colors immediately filled my vision. It was funny the way the shop owners were each trying to lure us in. I folded and bought some beautiful tiles that will eventually decorate a house that I don’t even have yet… I just love buying art! The Asia side was pretty much the same as the European side, we took a boat that took about 20 minutes. When I got back to my hostel I met these 4 Canadian guys who were doing this CRAZY thing called the Mongol rally. It starts in London and ends in Mongolia and there’s hundreds of people doing it. You rent a car (but it has to be kind of a shit car with no bigger than a 1.2 liter engine) and drive through 29+ countries in 8 weeks. The Canadians said they had gone through 5 countries in one day- insane! It’s also good because they have to raise 1000+ pounds which are donated to Mongolian charities. I of course did all the touristy things as well. The blue mosque was really cool. I had to wear a head scarf and long skirt (which was not actually a big change from my normal wardrobe) and was able to go inside. The architecture was amazing! Then I went to the hagia Sofia which was also just incredibly beautiful. And finally I went to the cistern which was SO cool. Underwater caverns and medusa sculptures. I wanted to go to the topkopi palace but it was closed :-(. I guess it’s a reason to go back to Istanbul!