Mosque Hopping in Turkey

Mosque Hopping in Turkey.

One of my favorite parts of my trip to Africa was actually the layovers getting there. The steady drop in tourism Turkey has seen over the years due to more frequent terror incidents left the city and mosques ours to explore and we were some of the only western visitors there. I loved everything about Istanbul – the colors, smells, sights and sounds. It is really a city for all of the senses. The colors? Beautiful Turkish lamps of all colors and sizes hang in every other shop window in the city, at night the wet cobblestone streets are lit up by the displays that gives the city a warm feeling. The smells? Places like the Spice Market where you can get scoop-fulls of exotic flavors from all over the world, you can almost follow your nose to get to it and on a cold January day the market is a slice of sensory heaven. The sights? Ancient mosques whose spires pierce the Istanbul skyline in great numbers. The sounds? My favorite part of the city – the call to prayer. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced waking up in the hostel at the first call to prayer at 5 something in the morning. I immediately got out of bed and opened my window allowing the sound to fill the room as it echoed down all of the roads and alleys in the neighborhood. The call is recorded or live depending on the mosque playing it and they all seemed to want to out-do each other. During the trip there was a moment where I was caught on the Bosphorus bridge during the call and hearing it echo over the river from both sides was incredible and the highlight of my time there. One of the other really cool things about this city is its stray animal population and how they are almost revered. Cats and dogs are everywhere and along with them are bowls of water, food and blankets on most corners so the animals never go cold or hungry. Every dog I saw also had a tag on its ear, after inquiring the locals told us that all street dogs are spayed/neutered and vaccinated.

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