As a part of our Comenius EU-project From National Wealth To World Heritage students and teachers from Spain, Sweden and Turkey met in Istanbul and Izmit in May 2009. Below is a short summary which is far from all that we have learnt and experienced during this amazing journey. A journey where we have learnt what genuine hospitality really means. Thank you so much students and teachers from Turkey. You have given us more than anyone can even dream of when it comes to taking care of your guests.
After half a year of waiting the day was finally here: Saturday May 16th 2009. We had been so excited over our journey to Turkey we hadn't slept that much. But after a long night we were heading for the Swedish airport Arlanda. It wasn't hard to find the teachers Jonas, Maggan and Andreas waiting for us outside the check-in. Unluckily, Milou, one of the Swedish students, discovered that her passport was missing; well you can't remember everything, can you?
But luckily, our plane was late so Milou had time to call a taxi to bring her passport. When we had checked in our luggage and the missing passport was in right hands, we sat down in the plane and could breathe out. Almost three and a half hour was ahead of us, spent in the air before we would land in Istanbul.
When flying over Turkey we looked down through the windows to see the city. Our first impression was BIG. There were so many houses and it didn't seem you would fit between them. Compared with green Sweden, Turkey looked very dry.
About dry, the air we breathed in when we first got off the plane was so dry, thick and warm you would think you were in a sauna. The thermometer was showing 31 degrees. When we had taken our luggage we went to see our Turkish friends. Neither they were hard to find. They were waving with Swedish flag in their hands and called our names.
That evening we had a nice dinner with the Turkish students and teachers. The Spanish students wouldn't come until later that evening, so while waiting we watched the Eurovision Song Contest which our neighbour country Norway won. Good for them, I think.
On Sunday morning we woke up curious about the trip to Topkapi Palace. The sun was shining and burning on our backs when we walked. There the time ran away when we were studying some of Muhammed's old possessions and after lunch we were off to Hagia Sophia, a very famous mosque. It was a great, grey building, and the only mosque in the world with six minarets.
We also got a chance to see the inside and then we had to wear fabric cloths around shoulders and legs. It was really fun to see how the religion worked after we had studied it in school.
In the evening we also went off to some dinner and shopping in Bakirköy.
On Monday we were going to MiniaTurk Open Air Museum which was a museum for all the famous buildings in Turkey. I think this was a splendid idea because we wouldn't have time to see all the buildings.
For lunch we ate the Turkish speciality Kumpir which was baked potatoes with different contents like corn, olives, mayonnaise and cheese.
In the afternoon we took a boat from Ortaköy. On the top floor of the boat we sat on big pillows and had view over the land on the both sides of the sea. On one side we had the European side of Istanbul, and on the other the Asian side. The boat took us under the two bridges that links the two different continents.
This was our last sight over Istanbul because after the boat trip we took the bus to Izmit where the Turkish students live.
On Tuesday morning we visited Kocaeli archaeology museum and hunting palace museum.
This was really interesting though we didn't' like history that much.
In the afternoon we joined the 19th May Youth and Sports Festival celebrations at the stadium. We also took part in the parade carrying our national flags both in our hands and painted in our faces.
After all the visits to different buildings and famous places, it was good with a day off spent in the sun.
On Wednesday we travelled to Kerpe, the Black Sea Coast and spent our day mostly on the beach. This was the best day of all, we Swedish students thought, although the weather was rather cloudy and the water rather cold. We liked to get closer friends with the Spanish and Turkish students.
On Thursday we got to see how the Turkish school looks like. We visited the classes to see how they worked and we also had lunch. The Turkish way of teaching and learning was a little bit different to ours, but it was interesting to see. After that we went to a candy floss factory which made Turkish delights to see how it was made, and to buy some of course.
It tasted really sweet, almost too sweet like cotton candy. But it was really good anyway.
Early Friday morning we took the bus from Izmit to Istanbul. At the teacher home in Izmit we took farewell of the Turkish students, went by bus to the Atatürk airport in Istanbul and flew home to Sweden again. We had a very nice stay in Turkey and it is something I really want to do again sometime.