(Well, just Istanbul) I loved Istanbul! It was absolutely beautiful. Natural beauty, architectural beauty, good food, all of it. I had really missed seeing water. Well, I saw a lot of it on this trip! Beautiful seas, and we took a boat ride on the Bosphorus. We even got a few drops of rain one day! A lot of green, too.
The food is excellent there; we had free breakfast every day at the hotel. The sour cherry jam was really good, and they had some excellent cheese. Doner kebabs are pretty good, too.
I only learned a few Turkish phrases before I left; I’ll have to learn more if I get to go again. Turkish is a beautiful language. Turkish people are very nice themselves.
There are cats everywhere in Turkey, and they are cuter than the ones in Jordan. I think they are better taken care of. At the Fatih mosque, which is literally crawling with cats, they have boxes for them to sleep in, and they give them food. They feed pigeons there, too. Oh yeah, don’t eat in the courtyard of Fatih mosque unless you want a furry audience. I was sitting there eating a doner kebab and felt a tapping on my back. I turned around and there was a little brown kitten looking up at me. We fed it, and right away two more cats showed up. In the bazaar, they act like they own the place. I think they belong to the storekeepers because many were wearing collars and one was wearing one of those “evil eye” necklaces. We ate at the bazaar one day and there was a cat running around the restaurant and coming under our table.
The mosques are, of course, awe-inspiring. We prayed juma in the Blue Mosque. It was the first time I’d been to juma since I left the states. They recite the Qur’an beautifully and the acoustics in the mosques are made for it.
Despite Turkey being a secular country, lots of people show up for the five daily prayers. Lots of women also pray at the mosques, using the same door. It seemed that even the most religious Turks are not overly prudish about gender.
It was fun being chased down the aisles of the Grand Bazaar by over-eager vendors who can do business in many languages. The Grand Bazaar is very busy but a lot of fun.
It was much hotter there than what I was expecting. It was probably about the same temperature as Jordan, but very humid so it felt much hotter.
Check out this article, Ramadan in Istanbul. I haven’t read it all the way through yet, but I’ve heard it’s good.
Also check out Saad’s Letters from Istanbul. I agree with most of his observations, especially in 1, 2, 4, 5, 9,and 12.