Thursday, April 1, 2010

Catching Up with Sultan Ahmet

Sultan Ahmet is actually the true name of the famous Blue Mosque located in the heart of Istanbul directly across from Constantinople’s own incredible creation of Saint Sophia. But, oddly enough, the Ahmet we came to see in Turkey actually lived in the Turkish capital of Ankara and was by no means a Sultan. After over two months of traveling on our own in Asia, seeing the familiar face of our good friend Ahmet Derin felt a little like coming home. Mariana and I had not seen Ahmet in over four years, but he had been a major facet in our lives for over 10 years before he finally left the US to return to his home country in 2005.

During our stay, Ahmet proved to be a knowledgeable tour guide offering us insight into Turkish culture, history, and architecture, but more importantly we found him to be just as we remembered him: kind, humorous, and accommodating. Ahmet paid for us to take a cruise along the Bosphorus, which bisects Istanbul and literally separates Europe from Asia. It is no wonder that Istanbul or Constantinople has had a long and violent history associated with its strategic location as a trading port between East and West. He also taught us how to use Istanbul’s public transportation system and generously fed us ridiculously delicious Turkish fare. He provided us with insider tips of places to visit in the all too short time period of 5 days that we had to spend in Istanbul. We visited the royal palace, the Blue Mosque, Saint Sophia, and the Grand Bazaar among many other things after we said our farewells, but the most important memories that we will take from this trip are the many nostalgic conversations that we had with our own Sultan Ahmet of Turkey.

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