Security is pretty obvious everywhere, and all of the mosques, temples etc have scanners and xray machines. The number of tourists is down, and we are constantly approached by carpet vendors and restaurant people. The neighbourhood we are staying in (between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia) is extremely quiet - restaurants and streets are nearly empty. We discovered quickly that food is very expensive here, so we now walk to an area where the locals eat, and prices are more reasonable.
Since we are surrounded by mosques, we have no problem hearing the calls to worship that are sung by the muezzins (men chosen for the task based on recitation skills and good character). We love it though - there are two that take turns, so it seems like a bit of a competition! It has also been interesting to see what goes on during Ramadan, and we've been able to chat with a few people about it. They fast from sunrise to sunset, and there are large communal areas set up throughout the city where they congregate to have their evening meal and break their fast. Some restaurants also have special menus for Ramadan, and the other night we watched them preparing for it. They were busy bringing in extra bread and getting it cut up. People fill the parks and squares, sitting on the grass with their families, or visiting with friends - it's a really festive atmosphere. The down side is that they have to get up early to be able to eat again before sunrise....
Tomorrow is our last day here, and on Monday morning we fly home. Much as we've enjoyed experiencing this place, there has been a bit of anxiety about something happening while we're here, so it will be a relief to leave. And we miss our family and friends, so we're looking forward to the summer at home.
Here are some photos of Istanbul....
|Blue Mosque & lots of people in park|
|Breakfast in our hotel in Istanbul - never varies!!|
|Our favourite place for dinner- just point to what you want.|