(On a side note, I do apologize that I didn't post yesterday, but I'm having some iffy wifi at the hotel here. )
First, in regards to Taksim, all seems well and life is going along as if nothing had happened. While we were concerned enough to move our hotel to the old city and away from Taksim and Gezi park. The Turkish people have been wonderful, welcoming, helpful and friendly. I simply cannot say enough. Having no Turkish language skills, I was concerned how we would be received.
One of my primary reasons for coming to Istanbul was to experience Islamic culture, knowing that since Turkey has a secular government, it would be more moderate. Having now experienced it, I feel very much at ease. I had naively imagined that when the call to prayer happened, that everything would stop dramatically. In my mind, I now see the call to prayer much like church bells ringing. When the call to pray happens, the faithful go to pray and everything else keeps on going.
I had also imagined the area around the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia to be solemn, like around St. Peter's in Rome. Instead, it felt a bit like a celebration, with a huge fountain that changes colors, hundreds of people taking pictures and getting snacks from vendors. Restaurants, shops, and families just having a good time. It was so alive and so completely different than what I had expected.
I'll be posting some pictures until I get my video issue sorted out. I do hope they dispel some of the misperceptions that I had of this dynamic, beautiful, and very modern city.
I will be meeting up with Maggie Walker Alumni Maryam Patton tomorrow. She's here visiting her family and doing research. I can't wait to catch up with this amazing former student and get her opinion on Turkey, Turkish culture, and the current events.
Please post questions if you have any regarding Turkey or Istanbul below! Thanks!