The Taj Mahal-Agra, India

The Taj Mahal is quite something. That's obvious ahead of time, but you can't possibly understand until you're standing in front of it. It's not just the Taj though, it's how they laid the grounds out that really ties it all together. The way you're lead in, and forced to see people standing in front of it at many different distances gives you an unreal sense of scale. The symmetry, detail, and the way light lives around the structure is something I've seen anywhere else. Really amazing experience, but probably not my favorite. Just based on size, The Taj takes it, but on overall detail and ridiculousness, have to give it to La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Gaudi was a god damn mad man. Agra was in interesting place to check out as well. You can probably classify it as a shithole, but whatever. We were lucky enough to be staying at a place with a rooftop balcony that looked over the whole city. That was an experience in itself. There was so much life on all the rooftops in Agra. Seemed to be where all the residents hung out. And if you just closed your eyes and listened, that was a whole other thing. Couldn't really make sense of it. It was a strange mixture of animals, kids playing, people talking, and what seemed like screaming. Then you get the daily "call to prayer", which I can't get enough of. 


Istanbul, Turkey

It's been a about a month since we left Istanbul, and I still can't make any sense of it. Not sure there is any point in trying either? Don't take that as a negative thing though. I couldn't be any happier that I went, but it's an exhausting place if you do it right. Istanbul is a city that never stops moving. With the exception of a few wee hours, the Turks are always hustling. And as a 6'5" American, I was a victim of that hustle. It's hard to knock it, but after a while, it definitely gets old. Rather than make myself look like an idiot by trying to describe Istanbul, here are some random thoughts on things that really stand out: 

  1. Religion (Muslim) is bigger then anything else in the city
  2. The Muslim's are unapologetic about shoving their religion down your throat
  3. The "Call to Prayer" is played 5 times a day throughout the entire city and every town in Turkey. If you don't know what the Call to Prayer is, Google it
  4. Turkish Coffee and Tea are a big thing. Wherever you look, the men are drinking it together on little stools. Not chairs. Stools
  5. Turkish woman rarely leave their homes. And if they do, it's to buy groceries 
  6. "Turkish Delight" is no joke. Before going to Turkey, I thought it was just a saying. It's not
  7.  Turkey knows how to do Tomatoes. If you have a meal with tomatoes in it, chances are, that meal will be great
  8. Almost all of the street food is delicious 
  9. The Mosque's scattered throughout the city are extremely impressive. Especially when you see all the detail up-close
  10. They are even more impressive when you realize that they were built in the 16th Century
  11. There are building in Istanbul dating back to the 5th Century
  12. Istanbul is awesome


Rob Hammer