My visit to Turkey was my first time in an Arab country. I enjoyed seeing the mosques, people, and comparing the many cultural differences between America, Europe, and the Arab world. I went to Istanbul and Kusadasi. To this day, Istanbul remains one of my favorite cities.
When I arrive in a new city, one of the first things I do is take a bus tour to get an overview of everything and plan what I'll be doing. One must-see location was the Topkapi Palace which was the primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans. The Palace contains important holy relics of the Muslim world, including Muhammed’s cloak and sword and Spoonmaker’s Diamond, which is an 86 carat pear shaped diamond said to be worth about $230 million.
I really liked visiting the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (popularly known as the Blue Mosque), and the Hagia Sophia which you can see in the picture above. These mosques both had amazing architecture with Byzantine and traditional Islamic elements. There are also great works of art throughout the buildings.
Of course, I can’t forget the food. The street food and local dishes were awesome and I really enjoyed the Turkish Delight. Turkish Delight is a flavored candy or sweet meat, which is made with sugar and starch. It’s then filled with honey, dry fruits or nuts. Because Arabic gum is frequently used as a binder, it has a sticky texture. It comes in cubes with powdered sugar sprinkled on top. It’s pretty great stuff.
I also made a stop at Kusadasi, home of the ancient site of Ephesus. It was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek era. Ephesus had a population in excess of 250,000 in the 1st century BC. You can find the Temple of Artemis, Basilica of St. John, the House of Virgin Mary and more.