November 2, 2009

Traveling to a Muslim Country

On day one, the nearby mosques' minerats with their loud blasts of pre-dawn calls to prayer seemed like they would put a damper on our trip. By the morning of day two, I didn't even hear them. We had so many mosques near our hotel, it was unreal. I could count 4 spires from our room, 11 from the rooftop breakfast area. Neither of us had ever traveled to a Muslim country (although I had been to Jordan when I was much younger, but don't remember much of the differences). Naturally, we had preconceptions of what it would be like.

Minerats accentuating the Blue Mosque

Hearing different views from people who've traveled there, we didn't really know what to expect. Could we hold hands on the street? Would men harass at me if I didn't wear a headscarf? Could Greg get a beer at dinner? The answers: yes, no, yes.

Although Turkey is a Muslim country, Istanbul is very cosmopolitan. We saw plenty of women with headscarves, but there also were many who dressed just like we do in the States. People mostly drank tea, but there were those who drank alcohol. Almost everyone we interacted with knew multiple languages and was very friendly. Obviously, we stood out as foreigners, but we were never so different that we stopped traffic. In fact, I would say we got a healthy fill of jay-walking, which is heavily frowned upon in Munich.

The one thing I treasured from this trip was not only how different a Muslim country could be, but also how inspiring and refreshing it was to be there.

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