1. The entire 5th World Youth Congress experience from July 30 to August 14, 2010 in Istanbul and other parts of Turkey
2. My flight to Turkey and back to the Philippines via one of the world’s top carriers, Singapore Airlines, and the very expensive fare. Don’t ask me how much. Thanks to my sponsors.
3. The flight attendants, free food, mini-TV and headset for each passenger inside the Singapore Airlines plane
4. The Ataturk airport, and the long queue of international participants like me at the Immigration area
5. The Taksim Square, the heart of modern Istanbul, and the Istiklal Caddesi or Independence Avenue, a pedestrian shopping street. This is where I shopped most of my pasalubong.
6. The vintage-looking red tram that runs along the Istiklal Avenue, and the subway in Istanbul
7. The Bosphorus Bridge which connects Europe and Asia; and the Bosphorus Strait which separates the two continents
8. The Ottoman Empire’s Sultan Ahmed Mosque, the not-so-blue Blue Mosque
9. The Galata Tower, built in the 14th Century by the Genoese colony as part of their town defense, then used in different times as a prison then a watch tower for fires. I had the chance to go to the top of the flower and see the panoramic views of Istanbul from there, and dine at the second to the top floor.
10. The Hagia Sophia (Divine Wisdom – attribute of Christ), one of the greatest surviving architectural examples of the Byzantine period. It used to be an Orthodox Patriarchal basilica (for 916 years), then a mosque (for 481 years), and now a museum. In the Byzantine history, the Hagia Sophia played an important role as emperors were crowned and various victories were celebrated here. It even gave refuge to criminals. Its interior view shows Islamic and Christian elements on top of the main dome. Imagine a mosque with a painting of the Virgin Mary.
11. The Grand Bazar (1461), the world’s oldest and one of the largest covered markets. It has 18 entrances and more than 4,000 shops. It is similar to the Divisoria in the Philippines, only that is covered.
12. The Istanbul Archaelogical Museum (est. 1881) which houses some 1,000 archaeological pieces from the Mediterranean basin, the Balkans, Middle East, North Africa and central Asia. Prominent artifacts in the museum include the tablet of the Peace Treaty of Kadesh dated 1284 BC (the first recorded international treaty in the world), Sarcophagus of the Mourning Women found in Sidon, the monumental Lycian tomb, statues from the ancient times until the Roman era, Parts of statues from the Temple of Zeus found at Pergamum, busts of Alexander the Great and Zeus, the troy exhibit, tablet archive containing documents with cuneiform inscription, obelisk of Asyrian king Adad-Nirari III, Ottoman coins, seals, decorations and medals.
13. My awesome realization that the historical TROY was part of Turkey! For many years, people had thought that Troy mentioned in tales never existed until its remains were found in 1822. It appeared in Greek and Latin literature. Homer first mentioned story of Troy in Iliad and Odyssey. Its inhabitants in the Bronze Age were called Trojans. In this Age, troy had great power because of its strategic location between Europe and Asia. In the third and second millennia BC troy was a cultural center. After the Trojan War, the city was abandoned from 1100 to 700 BC. About 700 BC Greek settlers bagan to occupy the Troas region which was named Ilon. Alexander the Great ruled the area around the 4th century BC. After Romans captured Troy in 85 BC, it was restored partially by Roman general Sulla and named as New Ilium. During the Byzantine rule, troy lost its importance. There is a replica of the mythical Trojan horse built by the Turkish Government (I’m sure you know the Trojan horse is you have read Homer’s work).
14. The carpets
15. Kebab overload!
16. The Yoghurt served in almost every meal
17. Shawarma, which is chicken in Turkey, not beef
18. Baklava, a Turkish dessert
19. Eating at Burger King and McDonalds when I had enough of beans, weird rice, weird-tasting chicken and weird macaroni. The serving of fries in the said restaurants was very generous (large fries mean twice the quantity of the large fries in the Philippines).
20. Dondurma, Turkey’s version of Pinoy’s dirty ice cream
21. The yummy Biskrem and Bolu chocolates
22. The Turkish lira bills and coins which all feature Ataturk, the founder and first president of the Republic of Turkey
23. The school where we were housed, the Yildiz technical University in Davutpasa
24. The late dusk, usually at 9:30 p.m. which is quite weird for Filipinos like me
25. The sense of ancient history of Istanbul (first named Constantinople, then Byzantium)
26. The mixed Byzantine and Ottoman elements in Istanbul’s architecture
27. My adventures with the Team Pinas (mostly shopping and sight-seeing!)
28. The exhibit fabricated by Team Pinas
29. The three workshops I attended
30. The mob dance
31. My roommates from Azerbaijan and Afghanistan
32. The regional meeting for Asians
33. The Bosphorus night cruise, and the non-stop dancing on the boat!
34. Shopping at The Forum, one of Europe’s biggest malls, with Team Pinas.
35. The jumpshot photo of Team Pinas with The Forum at the backdrop
36. The photoshoot of Team Pinas
37. The Aya Irini Church concert. My fellow Filipino delegate and I went out of the venue during the break, but we were not allowed to come in again by the very strict guards.
38. Buying an expensive Turkish SIM card which did not work
39. The happy bus trips, with people dancing inside on the bus
40. The happy Africans who danced at every opportunity
41. The amoy inside the bus, and buying anti-biyahilo because of it
42. My aile (family)
43. Our aile’s provincial bus travel going to Bolu City, with a steward serving free drinks
44. Our aile’s youth project in Bolu City
45. Canoeing at Lake Danum
46. Dinner with the Governor of Bolu Province after canoeing
47. Painting the word Mabuhay on one of the steps of the youth center we organized in Bolu City
48. Our aile’s clean up drive in the not-really-dirty forested part of Bolu City
49. Happy conversations with my Finnish, Macedonian and African friends
50. The Taksim Youth March
51. Meeting a Filipina in Turkey, the only Pinoy we saw in the country, during the last day of the Congress
52. My USD100 worth excess baggage
53. The freebies, especially the pink shirt with the printed word MINIMALIST, and the souvenier pins and coins from my new international friends
54. My meaningful interaction with young people from all over the world, their stories, their organizations, their projects, their hopes and dreams
55. The Turkish people’s sincere interest to help and communicate with foreigners despite the language barrier
Written on August 24, 2011