Day 2: Blue Mosque… Empty?

Hotel View: 1

Hotel View

The adhaan was beautiful The night before, I left the windows open and a nice sea breeze came in and then eventually the adhaan (adhaan is the call to prayer and can be heard here). It was beautiful. There is nothing like waking up for Fajr to adhaan coming in from the outside (Fajr is the name of the prayer Muslims pray in the early morning hours).

The Blue Mosque is only a short minute and a half walk from my hotel. It’s pretty dark and drizzly. The forecast is bad for this whole weekend, but I’m in ISTANBUL so who cares? I was expecting to see hordes of people walking towards the mosque for prayers, but instead I saw only three people. Weird.

Sultanahmed, is almost like a maze. It’s an Ottoman city built on old European structures, and the roads are a little confusing. I followed the guys I saw earlier, and we seemed to go through weaving alleys to get to the front of the masjid.

Note to all: The blue mosque does not have shoe racks outside, so don’t look for them. They’re inside and located all over the place.

The masjid is HUGE HUGE HUGE. The word gigantic doesn’t do it justice. Too bad there were only 10-15 people inside. We get more people for Fajr at Masjid Hamza than the Blue Mosque. Pathetic.

The recitation of Quran by the imam in prayers was beautiful. He had an Al-Azhar robe and hat going on. Apparently, he speaks a little german, fluent in Turkish, and not a word of Arabic. How do you graduate from the most prestigious university in Cairo, and not speak a lick of Arabic? Very shady.

Honestly, I was expecting a community. People who knew each other, hung out, welcomed new people, but no one even greeted one another as they were leaving.

This used to be the heart of the Muslim Empire, one of the largest empires in the history of the modern world, and look at it now. Not even 10 people for Fajr.

Breakfast was great, and pretty different from what I am used to. On the menu was: cucumbers, tomatoes, some other veggies, four different cheeses, cereal, various juices, chai, coffee, breads, and some Turkish stuff ( I haven’t learned the names yet).

Really good stuff.

The highlight was the cat outside, which ended up eating HALF the salami tray (courtesy of me and the unknowing hotel administration), and my conversation with a German tourist who comes to Turkey often.

Note to all: There are TONS of cats here all over the streets. They’ll walk into any hotel, restaurant, and salon at will. They will sit on the counter, rub between your feet, or just lay next to you and you can’t do anything about it and neither will the locals. Unlike Saudi Arabia, the animals here seem to be treated really well, and each of the stray cats look like they could be in a show.

 

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