Guest Author: Ashna Shah – October 2015

Dear everybody

How are you?

We left South Africa and flew to Turkey where we stayed in Istanbul. In Istanbul, we saw the Hagia Sophia which was first a Christian church then was turned into a mosque. Finally, it became a museum.

Hagia Sophia

Another mosque we visited was the Blue Mosque. The Blue Mosque has six minarets while the Hagia Sophia has four.

The Blue Mosque is actually called the Sultan Ahmed mosque, but is referred to as the Blue Mosque because of the blue tiles on the inside. We heard different stories about why the Blue Mosque has six minarets. In one of the stories a Sultan wanted to build a mosque with a minaret of gold. He told the builder the turkish word for gold, but the

Galata Tower

turkish word sounds similar to the word for six. The builder heard the word for six and so he built six minarets. He had already built all six when he realized his mistake. He thought he would get beheaded, but the Sultan actually liked the six minarets so he decided to keep them.


We took a boat tour and saw the Bosphorous bridge. The bridge connects the side of Turkey that is on Asia to the side of Turkey that is on Europe. Istanbul is the only major city in the world that is on two different continents. We also visited Topkapi Palace. We saw armor, weapons, clocks, watches, and jewelry.

If you look closely in the background you will see a Medusa head. This Medusa head is in the Cistern

We also visited the underground Basilica cistern which used to be an underground area for storing water. In the cistern we saw two columns with medusa heads attached to them and nobody knows where they came from or why they are there. On our last day in Istanbul, we visited the Galata tower. The Galata tower is about 207 feet tall.

From Turkey we went to Paris. In Paris we visited many museums and monuments. The monuments included the Eiffel Tower and the Arc De

Arc de Triumphe
You probably know what this is (Eiffel Tower)

Triumph. We went to the top of both monuments. To get to the top of the Eiffel tower, we took a couple of elevators and for the Arc de Triumph we climbed over 200 stairs.

The museums included the D’Orsay, the Picasso Museum, the Rodin Museum, and the Louvre. The Louvre is the largest art museum in the world. In the Louvre we saw the Mona Lisa.

Mona Lisa

At the Musee D’Orsay we saw some original Van Gogh paintings and we also saw some impressionist paintings.

We rode the train to Versailles and visited the Palace of Versailles. The Palace of Versailles was built by Louis XIII. The Palace of Versailles was ginormous! The palace of Versailles had a lot of furniture from all the people who lived there.

In Paris we also went to the catacombs. These catacombs were much bigger than the ones in Lima because there were 6 million dead people in Paris, and 25,000 in the ones in Lima! In Paris we didn’t see all 6 million skeletons because some of the tunnels were closed. These catacombs were also much deeper than the ones in Lima.

 From Paris we flew to Rome. In Rome we saw the Trevi Fountain. The Trevi Fountain was supposed to be full of water, but there was only a small tub of water because the fountain was under renovation. If you throw a coin into the fountain over your shoulder they say you will come back to Rome.

We visited the Vatican where the Pope lives. But while we were at the Vatican we didn’t see the Pope since he was in the United States. In the Vatican we saw lots of art and sculptures. Also in the Vatican we saw the Sistine Chapel. In the Sistine Chapel the roof was painted by Michaelangelo and was his first painting.


Roman Forum

Another place we went was the Colisseum. During the Roman Empire

Roman Colisseum

gladiators jousted there, criminals were let out into the arena to battle with carnivorous animals, and lions and elephants were let out into the arena to kill each other. Poor lions and elephants L On the same day we saw the Palatine Hill and Roman Forum.

Roman Forum

This is where the Kings and Queens used to live. But now all that is left is the basement of an 8 story building. We learned that the ancient Romans had running water and indoor cooling. The Romans also invented the handshake.

When we left Rome we rode the train to Florence, which is also in Italy. We visited the Uffizi museum and saw sculptures and busts from the Medici family. The Medici family said they would give all these things to Florence, if they stayed in Florence. Another museum we visited was the Accademia museum. The Accademia museum is most famous for the David statue by Michelangelo. The David statue is

Telescopes from Galileo museum
Top of Plazzo Vecchio tower with the Duomo in the background

17 feet tall and is made out of marble! We also visited the Borgello museum where we saw early works by Michelangelo and a David statue by Donatello. The last museum I want to tell you about is the Galileo museum. In the Galileo museum, we saw telescopes that were about 10 feet long! We also saw some measuring devices and did hands on experiments. Galileo was one of the first scientists to experiment instead of just thinking. He proved that all the planets revolved around the sun instead of the sun revolving around the earth.

We went to Palazzo Vecchio and climbed the tower there. We also visited the Duomo and climbed over 400 steps to get to the top. While we were at the top we could see a lot of things. From the Duomo, we could see the tower at Palazzo Vecchio that we climbed. In Italy we ate a lot of pizza and pasta.

From Florence we drove to Lucca. We visited Pisa which was very close by

Leaning Tower of Pisa

and saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa. We also visited Cinque Terre which are

Cinque Terra

five villages on a hill. In the villages the houses are built into the sides of a hill, and are very colorful with colors like pink, purple, red and yellow. Cinque Terre is also next to the Mediterranean Sea. Another thing we did was visiting central Lucca. Central Lucca has walls around it. The walls are 12 m tall and very thick. You can actually climb up the walls and walk on top of the walls. After Lucca we went to Naples.

From Naples we rode the train to Pompei where we saw the ruins. Pompei got covered in ash and pumice stones from the volcano called Mt Vesuvius

Dead people in Pompeii

that Pompeians thought was just a harmless mountain. Mt Vesuvius is still active today. People have discovered bodies of Pompeians who died. There is still part of Pompei that archaelogists haven’t excavated because the Prime Minister of Italy wants to preserve the parts that have been already excavated.


So in about a thousand years if the part of Pompei that has been excavated gets ruined, there’s still more to excavate.

In Naples we saw two castles. Castle Nouvo and Castle dell’ovo.

Castle Nuovo

We climbed to the top of Castle dell’ovo and saw some ancient cannons.

I enjoy hearing back from you so please write back if you have time.

From Ashna


  1. Ashna, enjoyed reading descriptions of all the beautiful things you saw in Paris, Italy and of course Istanbul. Looks like you are keeping up good health and enjoying the trip to the fullest extent.


  2. Wow!!! Your description of each place is amazing. I enjoyed reading over and over again and felt as if I’m back in history book.


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