So I went on another trip, this time to Istanbul, Turkey. One of my classmates was getting married, so Mike and I decided to use that as an excuse to take a vacation. Istanbul is fascinating, what with its rich history and culture. It's an interesting mix between Europe and the Middle East. Turkey is about 98% Muslim, which was a change from the predominantly Christan or Jewish places I have been before. The Turkish government, which is democratically elected, is quite secular compared to those in other Middle Eastern countries. Turkey has also been avidly seeking membership in the European Union and is a member of NATO. This makes Turkey a unique environment in which an American can learn about Islam. The country welcomes tourists, and there is PLENTY to see. I highly recommend visiting!
The store owners do like to target tourists with their sales pitches, though. Like Gloriana, I did get propositioned by more than a few folks asking if I would like to buy a carpet. However, I found nearly everyone I met to be quite friendly, especially when compared to the average person you would meet on the street in the United States.
And of course I have pictures: