NAPLES, Italy – For the first time in my life, I was in a Muslim country and I had no clue what to expect. Turkey – a country known for its numerous leaders and empires that ruled the land for centuries upon centuries, the immense amounts of foods that make the country what it is and – in today’s day and age – the location of the country, which is not the greatest.
Though months could be spent going to the array of cities this Muslim-based country has to offer, I spent my time in one: Istanbul.
Istanbul, the largest city not only in Turkey, but one of the largest cities in the world – this place is no joke.
You hear and see how Muslims are portrayed in the media, and it’s not always in the most positive of ways. But I threw away everything I’ve heard about places such as Turkey and let the experience of actually be there just carry me along.
In no ways is Istanbul your typical European city and for very good reasons; one being its not fully located in Europe.
It’s the one city in the world that sits on two continents – Europe and Asia.
I’ve never been in such a large city in my life and between the mix of cultures that has influenced what Istanbul is today, to the Euro-Asian landscape and its beauty, I was awed from the second I arrived until my very last minute in Turkey.
There’s something extremely special about walking the streets and as the day moves along, the calls to prayer echoing throughout the city.
At first, I’ll admit, I was a little taken back – this was something completely new to me. But wow, it really is an experience to be had.
Every time the call to prayer occurred and I happened to be in a vicinity to hear it, I would stop and simply admire the beauty of the sounding of the prayer.
The peacefulness of the calls to prayer mixed with the 15 million people of Istanbul is quite an interesting combination.
Although I haven’t been, there were many times I felt I was in a city such as Tokyo, where you literally cannot move, but rather glide slowly with the immense amount of people also attempting to walk down the same street.
Istanbul, hands down, has been the city to impress me and awe me the most on my journey.
First and foremost, its people amazed, its cuisine, its architecture and its mosques all amazed me beyond belief.
It really was a first for me, something that can truly be classified as a great learning experience through only the power of traveling.
May the journey continue,