I'm just back from a great trip to Istanbul. It's a beautiful city with amazing food, and being only my second visit to a Muslim country, I found the regular calls to prayer blaring out of the mosques quite a novelty. It is however sadly one of those places overrun with middle-aged American fanny pack tourists. Probably because of this, places like the massive Grand Bazaar are mostly full of tat - iPhone cases, fake watches and overpriced Turkish Delights.
One morning, I was taking a shower. There was a frantic knocking on the apartment door.. I ignored it at first but they didn't go away so I figured it was important and answered... it was another guest asking what the direction to pray is. Something i've never been asked before on my travels - I guess knowing which direction Mecca is for traveling muslims must be this constant thing they ask for, like me and Wifi passwords..
Another funny experience was that I kept seeing kids running through the street late at night. I just assumed they were up to something the first couple days. Then I realised they were actually just running because they were late for prayers...
I loved that on every street there was someone freshly-squeezing fruit for only a quid a cup.
I'll 'ava baklava mate.... sorry I have a terrible sense of hummus.
The nightlife is quite fun - lots of people smoking shisha, playing backgammon and sometimes dancing to live gypsy music. Although, weirdly for a muslim country, a few places wouldn't let me stay if I didn't drink alcohol. And, depressingly, I was asked to leave one place for being on my own!
These guys are funny - they do a whole show when they sell you an ice cream.. Give you the ice cream on a big pole, take it away, hold it upside down over your head, give you an empty cone....
The bridge linking Europe and Asia.. full of hope... (unless you're a fish)
Aya Sophia, one of the biggest mosques in the world.