When I was booking my plane tickets from Haifa to Chicago, I decided that I wanted to stop for two days in Turkey for sightseeing and pilgrimage. So…I did. Go here for the entire set of pictures.
I arrived in Istanbul at 1 pm on Monday afternoon, the 16th of June, checked into my hotel, and promptly set off in the direction of the old city, on foot, alone. There were so many things to see, and although I was exhausted (having had very little sleep for the last 36 hours), I wanted to see as much as I could. I was hungry, but unwilling to stop at a restaurant, so I purchased a bag of Turkish delight (lokum) to eat as I walked.
I also saw the outside of the Hagia Sophia, a lot of random parks, and historic-looking buildings. I explored the Kapalıçarşı (“Covered Bazaar”), where a carpet seller tried to ask me on a date. After that experience, I switched my ring to my left ring finger and pretended like I didn’t hear guys when they would talk to me. Traveling alone can be difficult in that way. I bought a few things there, bargaining ferociously. 🙂 A taxi driver didn’t speak English, but he did point out some historic sites for me, and the Iranian embassy.
Whenever I wanted my picture taken, I would find the nearest American tourist. They’re so accommodating. 😉
For dinner I found a kabob restaurant, took my food back to the hotel, and slept rather early. Tuesday morning I woke up at 7 am, walked to the train station, then took a bus from Istanbul to Edirne, about 3 hours away. When I arrived at the bus station in Edirne, I had to take a smaller, local bus into the city. The purpose of my visit to Edirne was to visit the House of Baha’u’llah as a pilgrim. Baha’u’llah, the most recent Manifestation of God, lived in Edirne for over four years.
I had the opportunity to pray, meditate, and walk in the same streets and gardens that the Blessed Beauty and His followers lived. It was so peaceful there.
The Selimiye Mosque in Edirne was breathtaking, and literally down the street from the House of Baha’u’llah. I sat in the park nearby for a time, enjoying the sun and the view.
I then took a bus, another bus, and a train back to my hotel in Istanbul. The next morning, Thursday, I woke up in a panic, rather late for the airport, and got on my plane to Chicago. It was the perfect way to end my service in the Holy Land.