ANKARA – TURKEY
This past weekend was packed full of adventure. We are trying to make the most of our time in Istanbul - I can hardly believe that we've been here for a week and a half already! All of a sudden, five weeks in Turkey seems very short indeed.
On Saturday, a few of us took a ferry over to the Asian side of Istanbul.
Turkey is remarkably open with allowing guests access to its Mosques; they are closed to visitors only during times of prayer. Guests do have to comply with some basic guidelines (i.e. women need to cover their hair/shoulders, and they should not be showing too much leg; all visitors also need to remove their shoes). At most mosques, however, scarfs are provided for free use, and there are locations where shoes can be left outside (or plastic bags are available to carry inside.) At some mosques there are even Imams available that you may ask questions about Islam to clarify any perceptions one may have about Muslims and the Islamic religion.
On Friday, we took a lovely boat tour of the Bosphorus Strait. We left around 10:30 in the morning, and after shuffling around the boat looking for the best seat, we finally settled for the bench outside situated along the side of the ferry. Our view was fabulous, and aside from having to move around so the staff could pass by us to the kitchen and a few moments of shade when the sun snuck behind a cloud, the trip was great.
Yes, I do plan on starting each post in my travel mini series with a fabulously cheesy dong name. Get excited. Well, this brings me to the second stop of our trip: Istanbul. It was nothing like I had imagined.
Despite being sandwiched between the European Mediterranean and the Middle East, Turkey has a very distinctive culture that was a real treat to experience.