Today’s bloggers: Felizia Torres Ahlqvist and Signe Andersson
After an intense couple of days, we decided to sleep in for a bit, now that we had arrived to our last day in Istanbul. With no meetings ahead everyone had the opportunity to explore the things we previously hadn’t had time to do. Some of us went to the spice market and the grand bazaar, the perfect place for holiday gifts (this came to be a bit problematic at the airport, but that was an issue for later).
After a quick lunch we wanted to hear the call to prayer while standing in between the Sultan Ahmet and Haga Sofia Mosques. It was an amazing experience. Almost as if the mosques were communicating with each other, when one stopped the other continued. It really showed the grandness of these mosques.
Trying to enter the blue mosque, we were told that during prayer we could not enter, and so mosque volunteers kindly invited us to a short seminar. We entered in what was during Sultan Ahmet’s time a daycare of the mosque. They told us about the history of the mosque as well as a brief overview of the islamic faith.
On our way back for some rest before dinner we decided to enter the Hagia Sophia mosque again. Compared to when we first entered the mosque our first night arriving to Istanbul, on this Friday afternoon it was much more lively with both more visitors and practitioners as well as volunteers of the mosque. One of the volunteers kindly shared the details of her faith to us. She told us about about the history is Islam as well some facts about the mosque. For example, there are no images of religious persons in the praying room. In the ceiling in the front of the praying room, there were white sheets hanging from the roof. These were there with the purpose of covering the image of Jesus, being that Hagia Sophia previously was a Cristian church and a museum until last year only.
As our trip was coming to an end, we wanted to have a celebratory goodbye dinner, and the place we found was perfect. In a small alley near Izterklal, the restaurant was as if we were in chef Arzu’s own kitchen, with the place only (barely) fitting the 14 of us with the them cooking in front of us. Having eaten lamb for the majority of the trip, her fresh salmon was a nice contrast, which she served with chia seeds. The night was filled with spontaneous piano-playing, laughter, and the struggle to share the 3 tiramisus between 4 tables. Some of us where so amazed from the chocolate cake that we could not stop talking about it, and ended up asking for the recipe. A hidden culinary pearl in Istanbul.