Istanbul Travel Blog – Day 1 & 2

Today’s bloggers: Rebecka Zeidan Mellqvist and Vendela Jonsell

Monday the 13th was mainly a travel day. We went from Uppsala to our destination Istanbul!

Since we arrived in the evening we went straight to a resturant to enjoy the turkish cuisine, a great way to start off the week. The ambiance was amazing, we had a great waiter who taught us som Turkish words as well as a Turkish traditional dance. In exchange we showed him our Swedish dance ”små grodorna”. Huge success!

After dinner we took a midnight stroll to visit Hagia Sophia and The Blue Mosque. It truly was a magical sight to see the two mosques during night time. To our great surprise people were still allowed to enter Hagia Sophia despite the late hour! It was amazing to be able to see the beautiful interior and we were almost alone in there.

Tuesday the 14th (day 2) we got up early for a meeting with Mor Çanti, which is an organisation working against domestic violence. Mor Çanti focuses on womens rights in Turkey. They work to foster womens solidarity through a womens shelter, workshops and one to one social work to empower women. It was a very insightful meeting and interesting to learn about the important and impressive work at Mor Çanti.

After that we wandered down Istiklal avenue, one of the most famous avenues in Istanbul, heading towards the Swedish General Consulate in Istanbul (housed in the Swedish palace, built on land bought in 1757 making it the oldest of the Swedish states properties abroad). We picked up lunch along the way.

At the general consulate we met with Prof. Dr. Yaman Akdeniz, one of the founding members of IFÖD, an organisation fighting for freedom of expression in Turkey. Dr. Akdeniz told us about IFÖD:s work and lengthy legal battles, fighting for the freedom of expression. They mostly take on cases regarding freedom of expression on the internet, for example blocking websites and posts online. We were able to ask many questions and received long and detailed answers. We are very grateful to Dr. Akdeniz for meeting with us and to the general consulate for hosting us!

After our meeting we doubled back to check out two churches we had passed on our way towards the general consulate before separating to explore the city in smaller groups. We then had dinner at separate places to later on enjoy a fun evening together.
We are so thrilled to be in Istanbul! The trip so far has been far beyond our expectations, and we are looking forward for the rest of the week!

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