What do you say about the most amazing holiday you’ve ever taken?
That is was fantastic. Stupendous. Awesome. Astonishing. Surprising. Astounding. Remarkable. Over-whelming. Breath-taking. Tremendous. Grand. Outstanding. Impressive. Magnificent.
I’ve run out of impressive words . . .
But I hope you get the message.
We had wonderful time.
But the most important part about it had nothing to do with the shopping, or seeing the places only dreamed about.
Maybe I should tell you about it . . .
We flew into Istanbul.
Even the name stirs up the imagination. Here is the site of a hundred, hundred years of HISTORY. Of sultans and harems and the mysterious Bosporus. Of conquering armies and a people who refused to fade away.
Okay. Yes. I read a lot.
We were ushered through the remarkably clean airport and into a waiting cab (a large one because we have large luggage. Yes. Large luggage. I’m going to go with that.)
Then a breath-snatching view of ancient walls interspersed with modern skyscrapers as we wound our way through the old city to our former-mansion-built-in-1835-and-now-an-amazing-hotel. Square in the middle of everything.
I’m not kidding. We were within walking distance of Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque, Süleymaniye Mosque, Basilica Cistern, Grand Bazaar, Egyptian Spice Market, Galata Tower and bridge, and many more.
Every view was astounding. Around every corner, something that dropped the jaw.
And you're right. I spent a lot of time with my mouth open.
Then there were the scents. The braziers, coffee, spices, roasting corn, roasting meats, incense, seawater, perfumes, baking pastries, bread, roasting chestnuts, and the occasional whiff of diesel (In a town of 15 million, some of that is expected).
And the people. (Like our new friend Erik and the amazing food he serves in our now-favourite restaurant, Ab-i Nefis. (I have his phone number if you want to make a reservation...)) The intelligent, friendly, courteous, dedicated, hard-working, elegant individuals who crowded the streets and the markets. Who cleaned and cooked and served and bargained and spoke better English than their Canadian visitors, and joked and laughed and carried children while pushing an empty stroller.
And finally, and most important, the five-times daily call to prayer (adhan).
The most amazing part of the whole experience.
There is something so reassuring and comforting in such a touching and heartfelt display of faith. It brought us to tears every single time. And brought us to a standstill. While much of Istanbul went on around us, the Canadians were transfixed by the beautiful voices calling us to remember to be grateful. To have faith. And to come and worship.
I acknowledge that there is no god but Allah.
I acknowledge that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah (After prophethood).
Hasten to prayer (Salah).
Hasten to success.
Prayer is better than sleep (Recited only for Fajr prayer's Adhan).
God is greatest.
There is no god but Allah.
At times, the voices were all around us. Some taking turns singing out their beckoning message. They woke us in the early morning and reminded us one last time before sleep.
On my last morning in Istanbul, I woke to the voices beginning to sing in the distance. Then they were overpowered by the Muezzin in the mosque across the street from us.
From the kitchen of the hotel, I could smell the coffee brewing and the bread just coming out of the oven.
I lay there, realizing just how much I was going to miss this wonderful land of faith and food and friendship.
I needed this trip. I needed to come to Turkey. To see that 99.9% of the Muslim people are not those who make the headlines. But are family members who are spending their lives working, serving, laughing, caring and worshiping.
I loved my stay in Istanbul.
As soon as I can, I’ll be back.
I have friends there.
|First of all: Tea. As it always comes in Turkey.|
|Our new Turkish family.|
|View inside our hotel.|
|View from our hotel. Astounding. |
Only hinted at by my IPhone.
I hope I look as good when I'm 600 years old!
|What can I say? Spices!!!|
|Galata Tower. From the outside.|
|Galata Tower. From the inside looking outside.|
|Yes. It is Suleman. Or at least he would have you think so...|
|Erik. Cooking us supper. Testi-kebab. Mmmmmm.|
|The Blue Mosque. As photographed by an amateur.|
|Hagia Sofia. Ditto.|
|Hagia Sofia. Professional shot.|
|My favourite photo. A sweet girl inside Hagia Sofia.|