Europe Trip Day 9 - Wednesday, May 21
After six days in Italy, the Carolina volleyball team returned to Istanbul, Turkey, Tuesday night. The Tar Heels scrimmaged the Yesilyurt Spor Kulubu team Wednesday evening and won the match 3-1. The team will head to Izmir, hometown of senior Ece Taner, on Thursday and will stay there for the remainder of the trip.
ISTANBUL, Turkey - Today started off with a change in pace with a new type of breakfast food at the hotel to which we needed to adjust. There are no more labels to help us identify what our options are, and the breakfast items in Turkey are a bit more foreign and harder to identify. Needless to say, we don't know what everything we ate this morning, but it was good.
After breakfast, we loaded up the charter bus to visit the Blue Mosque. We all had head coverings and thought we were dressed appropriately to respectfully enter a mosque, but as Paige and Jojo learned in line, we were wrong. The majority of us donned yoga pants. Apparently some were tighter than others, so coverings had to be worn as skirts in order to look more conservative. We found out that T-shirts aren't typical mosque attire as some of us had to wear another covering over our arms, so as we entered, some ended up being covered head to toe with coverings given to us by the mosque staff. The inside of the mosque was absolutely beautiful, however, going barefoot on the carpet inside the mosque with a large amount of other tourists wasn't exactly everyone's cup of tea.
After visiting the Blue Mosque, we were able to view the Hagia Sofia across the way. Going inside this famous mosque cost a little north of some of our price ranges, so we settled for pictures outside. We did find enough money to spend at the Great Bazar, which is essentially a large market that sells things ranging from tiny string bracelets to high-end bags and other expensive name brand products - the debate over the authenticity of the latter is still ongoing within the team.
After we shopped till we dropped, a group of eight of us decided to take a break and enjoy fine Turkish cuisine... in Turkey they call it "Burger King." After our meal, it was time to head back to our hotel. We found we had taken a bit more detours than we thought, so we had to flag down a cab to see if they could take us back to our hotel. We ended up finding ourselves in a real-life game of Crazy Cabbie as the driver bobbed, weaved and sped his way through the city. He got us back to our hotel in one piece, though, and we all indulged in a much-needed nap to get ready for our match tonight.
After a short rest, we drove back into Instanbul to meet our opponent, Yesilyurt Spor Kubulu, for the first time. We arrived there a few minutes early and were watching some younger volleyball players, about the age of high school, practicing and playing. Ece then informed us that the team we are playing are the same girls we were watching. What! We are playing teenagers? The talent that the young ladies had amazed us. We we ended up winning the match in four sets. Go Heels! The girls on the other team were kind and were very appreciative to play us. We traded t-shirts and were able to take some pictures with them before returning to the hotel for dinner and a night in to rest after another eventful day in Europe!