Sultanahmet after Sunset!

 

My visits to Istanbul are quite limited; we take a few weeks off a year for a short vacation and we try to fit everything we want to do in those few weeks. Since we almost always go in the summer time, the days are long and the sun sets after 8…by that time, we’ve already been in the streets for a good 8 to 10 hours and we’re dead tired so we head back home…

We go to Sultanahmet square as a mission. It’s either to look for something, or buy something specific, but not site seeing. We don’t get to enjoy the beauty of the square…we just pass through it!

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Leyla and the Chocolate Factory/Museum (a trip to Pelit Chocolate Factory in Istanbul)

On a cold winter day in Istanbul, when we were scouting for a place to go with the kids, my sister-in-law, Betul, suggested we go to Pelit the chocolate factory. We called a cab and my husband and I, Betul and my nieces (Leyla and Ayla) headed towards Esenyurt where it’s located.  It’s not the huge ‘Charlie and the chocolate factory’ type of place that might have come to your minds…it’s a chocolate factory that has a chocolate museum with everything chocolate! I must say, it’s a place that is very befitting Istanbul, with all it’s history and culture…

We were, as adults, extremely excited and tantalised by the addictive scent of chocolate everywhere…you can only imagine how my 6 year old niece felt!! She had a priceless smile on her face the whole day!

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Engagement!! Nişan!!!

 

About a month ago, my baby sister (not very ‘baby’ anymore), Sheyma, got engaged. On the 1st of February was her ‘contract signing’ ceremony, or Nikah (as it is called in Arabic and in Turkish). And on the 14th of February we threw an engagement party for her in Saudi Arabia.

So during the preparations for the party, I took charge of the engagement cake and cookie favors. I’ve made these type of cookie favors before but it was the first time I was making a 3 tier cake. Time-consuming but fun!!! :))

Yaklaşık bir ay önce kardeşim, Şeyma, nişanlandı. Şubatın 1’inde nikahı kıyıldı..Şubatın 14’ünde nişan partisi yapıldı. Hazırlıklara benim katkım nişan pastası ve dağıtılcak nişan kurabiyeleriydi. İlk defa üç katlı pasta yapacağımdan bayağı heyecanlıydım ama çok şükür, Allahın izniyle,başarıyla sonuçlandı!

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10 Days…10 Gün

 

 

(Bu yazının Türkçesi için lütfen sayfanın aşağısına bakın. Please scroll down to read the Turkish translation of this post. ) 

 

Today is the first day of the 10 days…what 10 days you may ask…

The 10 days that any good deed done is the most beloved to Allah..Yes that’s right..MOST beloved!! The first 10 days of the month of Dhul Hijjah…

Al-Bukhari narrated from Ibn Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him), that the Prophet (salAllahu Aleyhi wa Sallam) said: “There are not any days in which righteous deeds done in them are more beloved to Allah than these days, i.e. the ten days (of Dhul-Hijjah).

They said (the companions): O, Messenger of Allah, not even Jihad in the path of Allah?

He said: Not even Jihad in the path of Allah Most High, except if a man goes out (for Jihad) with his self and his wealth, then he doesn’t return with anything from that.”

What about the days of Ramadhan??

The deeds done on these days are more beloved than the days of Ramadhan!! The Prophet (salAllahu Aleyhi wa Sallam) was very clear when he said “There are not any days…”…

It means, amongst all the days of the year, doing any kind of good deed on these 10 days is more beloved to Allah than if it was done on any other day!

How can we make use of these 10 days? If we, as Muslims, are living through these days as if they are just another group of days within 365 days of the year…then we truly don’t understand the importance of these 10 days! So important and so sacred that Allah swears an oath by them in the Holy Quran:  “By the dawn; by the ten nights” [al-Fajr 89:1-2] 

(Ibn Kathir said that “the ten nights” referred to here are the ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, and this opinion was also held by Ibn Abbas, Ibn az-Zubair, Mujahid and others).

So what are the things that we can do to ‘maximize our profits‘ in these very important 10 days?

 

Prayer:

Perform all your prayers on time! Fajr, Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha…and when you can, try your best to preform them in the Mosque or in congregation. Perform voluntary (nafl) prayers when you can.

 

Fasting: 

The reward for fasting on the 9th day of Dhul Hijjah, the day of Arafah, is Allah’s forgiveness of two years of sins…730 days of forgiveness!!

Muslim narrated from Abu Qutaadah that the Prophet (salAllahu Aleyhi wa Sallam) said: “Fasting the Day of Arafah will be credited with Allah by forgiving one’s sins of the previous year and the following year.”

But why not fast during the 9 days too (9 days because it is not permissible to fast on the day of Eid, which is the 10th day of Dhul Hijjah).

Fasting alone has countless rewards,

Allah has said in the Hadith Qudsi: “Fasting is for Me, and it is I who give reward for it.” 

Also, from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudree (May Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Messenger of Allah (salAllahu Aleyhi wa Sallam) said: “No servant (of Allah) fasts one day in the way of Allah, except that Allah removes his face from the fire because of it (the distance of traveling) seventy years.” (Bukhari and Muslim).

So think about it…if fasting voluntarily on a regular day has so many rewards, then how great is fasting during these 10 days? The weather’s better, the days are shorter..why lose the opportunity for a great reward?

(Whoever is at Arafah as a pilgrim then fasting is not expected of him, as the Prophet (salAllahu Aleyhi wa Sallam) stopped at Arafah to eat.)

 

Verbal Remembrance of Allah (Dhikr): 

“And mention the name of Allah on the appointed days”[12:28].

The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) encouraged Muslims to recite a lot of Tasbeeh (SubhanAllah), Tahmeed (Alhamdulillah), Takbeer (Allahu-Akbar) and Tahleel (la ilaha illAllah) during this time.The Takbeer may include the words “Allahu-Akbar, Allahu-Akbar, la ilaha ill-Allah; wa Allahu akbar wa Lillahil-hamd (Allah is Most Great, Allah is Most Great, there is no god but Allah; Allah is Most Great and to Allah be praise),” as well as other phrases.Men are encouraged to recite these phrases out loud and women quietly.

Ibn ‘Omar and Abu Hurairah (radiAllahu anhuma) used to go out in the marketplace during the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, reciting Takbeer, and the people would recite Takbeer individually when they heard them.

Al-Bukhari mentioned about Ibn Omar and Abu Hurayrah (May Allah be pleased with them) that the two of them used to go out to the market place during the ten days (of Dhul-Hijjah) saying ‘Allahu-Akbar’, causing the people to also say it.”

Ibn ‘Omar also said: “‘Omar ibn al-Khattab used to say the takbir in his mimbar in Mina, whereupon the people of the mosque hearing ‘Omar, would start to say the takbir as would the people in the markets until the whole of Mina was locked in glorifying Allah.”

There are a number of ways of making takbir that have been narrated by the companions and their followers and from these ways is the following:

  • Allahu akbar, allahu akbar, allahu akbar kabiran.
  • Allahu akbar, allahu akbar, la ilaha illallah, wallahu akbar, allahu akbar, wa lillahil hamd.
  • Allahu akbar, allahu akbar, allahu akbar, la ilaha illallah, wallahu akbar, allahu akbar wa lillahil hamd.

 

Good Deeds:

Generally, all good deeds are rewarded highly at this blessed time. These actions include praying, reading Quran, making Du’a (supplication), giving in charity and being good to our families, and other voluntary (nafl) righteous deeds of worship. These are amongst the deeds that are multiplied in these days.

 

Seek Allah’s Forgiveness and Repentance

In addition, seeking Allah’s forgiveness (istighfar) and repentance (tawbah) at this time is also encouraged. This means more than just a verbal statement of sorrow for past misdeeds. It also requires a firm resolution to avoid making the same mistakes in the future by giving up bad habits, and behavior while sincerely turning to Allah.

 

Sacrifice

The slaughtering of a sacrificial animal (Adhiyyah) is also legislated for the Day of Sacrifice (10th) and the Days of Tashreeq (11th, 12th and 13th). This is the Sunnah of our father Ibraheem (May Allah be pleased with him) – from when Allah, the Most High redeemed his son by the great sacrifice (of an animal in his place). It is authenticated that the Prophet (salAllahu Aleyhi wa Sallam) slaughtered (sacrificed) two horned rams, black and white in color, and that he slaughtered them with his own hands, mentioned the name of Allah, the Most High (saying Bismillaah), said Takbeer (Allahu-Akbar), and placed his foot on their sides (while slaughtering them).

Muslim and others narrated from Umm Salamah (May Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet Muhammad (salAllahu Aleyhi wa Sallam) said: “If you see the Hilaal (new moon) of Dhul-Hijjah, and any one of you wants to make a sacrifice, then he should not cut (anything) from his hair and his nails.” and in one narration he said: “…then he should not take (cut) anything from his hair, nor from his nails, until he performs the sacrifice.” Perhaps this is because of the similarity with the one who is bringing a sacrificial animal for slaughter (in Hajj). As Allah, the Most High said: “…and do not shave your heads until the Hadee (sacrifice) reaches the place of sacrifice…”

The apparent meaning of this prohibition is that it is particularly for the one whom the sacrifice is for, and does not include the wife or children, unless there is an individual sacrifice for one of them.

 

Eid Prayer:

It is incumbent for the Muslim (who is not making Hajj) to make every effort to perform the Eid Prayer wherever it is performed, and to be present for the Khutbah and benefit. He must know the wisdom behind the legislation of this Eid (celebration). It is a day of thankfulness and performing deeds of righteousness.

 

May Allah grant us with endless rewards and guide us to be from those who benefit from these 10 days…Ameen

 

 

 

 

Sources:

The Virtue of the First Ten Days of Dhul-Hijjah

Importance of the First 10 Days of Dhul Hijjah

فضل أيام عشرة ذي الحجة للشيخ نبيل العوضي

The Superiority of the First Ten Days of Dhul-Hijjah

 

 

GÜNÜN ÖNEMİ (düzeltmeler babacığım tarafından yapılmıştır :))

Bugün, o on günün ilk günü… Hangi on gün diye sorabilirsiniz…

İçerisinde yapılan salih amelleri Allah’in en çok sevdigi on gün. Evet EN ÇOK sevdiği!! Zil Hiccenin ilk on günü…

Buhari’nin rivayetine göre, İbni Abbas’tan bir rivayette Peygamber efendimiz (sallAllahu aleyhi ve sellem) şöyle buyurmuştur: “İçerisinde salih amelin Allah’a daha sevimli olduğu şu günlerden başka bir gün yoktur”

Dedilerki (sahabeler):”Allah yolunda cihat da mı daha efdal değildir?”

Dediki: “Allah yolunda cihat bile daha efdal değildir” “yalnızca bir adam canı ve malı ile çıkar (cihada) ve götürmüş olduğu hiç bir şey ile dönemez ise” 

Peki ya Ramazan günleri??

Zul hiccenin on günü Allah için Ramazan günlerinden de daha çok sevimlidir! Peygamber efendimiz (SallAllahu Aleyhi ve Sellem) bu konuda çok açıktı: (Allah”a daha sevimli) şu günlerden başka bir gün yoktur”…

Bu demekki, koca bir senenin içinde bu on gün kadar faziletli bir gün yok!

Peki bu on günü nasıl değerlendirebiliriz? Eğer biz bu günleri 365 günün her hangi bir günü gibi geçiriyorsak o zaman bu günlerin faydasını anlamıyoruz demektir!

Bu günler öyle mübarek öyle değerli ki, Allah bu günler üzerine yemin ediyor: ”Fecre ve on geceye yemin olsunki” (Fecir suresi 1-2. ayetler). (İbnu Kesir bu gecelerden kasıtın Zulhicce ayının ilk on gecesi olduğunu söylemiştir. Çünkü Ibnu Abbas’tan bu şekilde rivayet olunmuştur.)

Bu önemli günlerde kazancimizi nasıl artirabiliriz?

Namaz:

Bütün farz namazları geciktirmeden vaktinde kılmaya gayret edelim! Sabah, Öğle, İkindi, Akşam ve Yatsi…ve namazları camide veya cemaatle kılmaya gayret gösterelim. Nafile namazları yapabildigimizce kılalım.

Oruç:

Arefe gününde (Zil Hiccenin 9′uncu günü) tutulan orucun fazileti iki senenin günahlarının affedilmesidir…yani 730 günün affı!!

Müslimin rivayetine göre, Ebu Kutada’den bir rivayette Peygamber efendimiz (sallAllahu aleyhi ve sellem) şöyle buyurmuştur: “Ben Allah’tan (tutmuş olduğum şu orucun) geçen seneki ve önümüzdeki senenin günahlarını silmesinin beklerim” 

(Elbetteki bu oruç Arafat’ta bulunmayan, ihram giymemiş olanlar için geçerlidir).

Ama neden Arefe gününü bekleyelim? Neden Zil Hiccenin 9 günü de oruç tutmuyoruz? (9 gün çünkü 10′uncu gün Bayram oldugundan o gun oruç tutmak caiz değildir).

Oruç tutmanın kendi başına çok fazileti var, zira Allah Hadisi Kudsi’de şöyle buyuruyor: “Oruç benim içindir; onun karşılığını ben vereceğim” (Buhari, Müslim).

Ebu Said-i Hudri (r.a)’dan rivayetle Peygamber efendimiz (sallAllahu aleyhi ve sellem) şöyle buyurmuştur: “Allah yolunda bir gün oruç tutan hiç bir kul yoktur kî, o gün sebebi ile Allah onun yüzünü yetmiş sene cehennemden uzak etmesin” (Müslim)

Bir düşünelim…eğer nafile oruç’un sevabı bu kadar çoksa, bu günlerde tutulan oruçun sevabı nasıldır acaba? Havalar güzel, günler kısa…bu fırsatı niye kaçıralım?

 

Zikir:

“Allah’ın ismini bilinen günlerde zikretsinler diye…” (Hac suresi 27. ayet)

Bu günlerde Peygamber efendimiz (sallAllahu aleyhi ve sellem) Müslümanları devamlı Tesbih (subhanAllah), Tahmid (elhamdulillah) Tekbir (Allahu Ekber) ve Tehlil (La ilahe ill-Allah) etmeye teşvik ederdi.

İmam Buhari İbnu Ömer ve Ebu Hureyre’nin (radi Allahu anhuma) Zulhicce’nin on gününde çarşıya giderler ve yüksek sesle tekbir, tehlil ve tahmid getirirlerdi demiştir. Çevredeki duyanlara bir hatırlatma olurmuş ve onlar’da söylemeye başlaralarmış.

İbn-u Ömerin rivayetine göre: ”Ömer (radi Allahu anhu) (bu günlerde) Minâ’daki çadırında tekbir getirirdi. Mescitte bulunan ve çarşı ve pazarda onu işiten müslümanlar da onunla birlikte, Minâ tekbir sesleriyle inleyecek, şekilde tekbir getirirlerdi.”

Tekbiri bir çok şekilde getirebiliriz. Sahabelerden verilen rivayetlere göre, bu on günde getirilen tekbirin söyleniş şekilleri söyledir:

a) Allahu Ekber, Allahu Ekber, Allahu Ekber kabiran.

b) Allahu Ekber , Allahu Ekber, La ilahe illallah, Vallahu Ekber, Allahu Ekber, Ve lillahil-Hamd.

c) Allahu Ekber, Allahu Ekber , Allahu Ekber, La ilahe illallah, Vallahu Ekber, Allahu Ekber, Velillahil-hamd.

Erkeklerin yüksek sesle söylemeleri ve kadınların alçak sesle söylemeleri teşvik edilmistir.

 

İyi Ameller:

Genel olarak, bu mübarek günlerde yapılan her amelin sevabı kat kattır. Bu ameller nafile namaz kılmak, Kuran okumak, Dua etmek, Sadaka vermek, ailelerimize iyi davranmak, ve başka aklımıza gelen nafile ibadetleri yerine getirmektir. Bu amellerin sevapları başka günlere kıyasla çok çok fazladır.

 

Allahtan Af Dileyip Tevbe Etmek:

Bu günlerde Allah’tan af dileyip (EstğfurAllah demek) ve tevbe etmek de önemlidir. Bu sadece geçmişte işlediğimiz hatalar için sıradan tevbe etmek değil…tam anlamıyla bir daha bu hataları işlememeye gayret etmek ve kötü alişkanlıklara bir son vermek içindir.

 

Kurban:

Vacib olan kurban, (Allah’in emir) Allah’a yaklaşmak anlamına olup, şükrün ifadesidir. Aynı zamanda Hz. İbrahim peygamberin bir sünneti olup, onun Rabbine karşı imtihanı kazanması gibi, insanın da itaat ve inkiyad ederek kurban kesmesi bir nevi imtihanı kazanmasıdır. Allah’da buna mükafaten, İbrahime oğlunun yerine kesilmek üzere bir kurbanlık göndermiştir.

Kurban, bayram namazını kıldıktan sonra kesilir.

Peygamber efendimiz (sallallahu aleyhi ve sellem) şöyle buyurmuştur: “Kim bayram namaıznı kılmadan kurban kesecek olursa namazdan sonra tekrar yerine bir kurban kessin. Ve kimde kurbanını henüz kesmemiş ise namazdan sonra kessin” (Buhari ve Muslim rivayet etmiştir).

Kurban bayram günü dahil dört gün boyunca kesilebilir.

Enes (radiAllahu anhu) buyurduki “Peygamber efendimiz (sallAllahu aleyhi ve sellem) iki tane alaca koç kurban etti. Ayağını kurbanlarının yan tarafları üze­rine basıp Bismillah diyerek tekbir alırken gördüm. Sonra onları kendi eliyle kurban etti”

Zul-Hicce ayı girdikten sonra kurban kesecek olan kişinin saçlarını, tırnaklarını kesmesi uygun ve caiz değildir. Çünkü kurban icin yapmis olduğu niyetle sanki hacca niyet etmiş gibi sayılır. Böylecede hacca niyet edenlere yasak olan bazı şeyler kendisine de yasak olur.

Peygamber efendimiz (sallallahu aleyhi ve sellem) şöyle buyurmuştur: “İçinizden kurban kesmek isteyen kişi Zulhicce’nin ilk on günü girdiği zaman saçına ve tırnaklarına dokunmasın” “saçı ve tırnaklarına kurbanı kesinceye kadar dokunmasın” (Muslim rivayet etmiştir).

Eğer aile fertleri için tek tek kurban etmeyecekse, bu onlar için geçerli değildir.

 

Bayram Namazı:

Namazı cemeatle beraber kılıp hutbenin dinlenmesi, ecri ve sevabı büyük olan amellerdendir.  Alimlerin bir kısmı bayram namazının vacib olduğunu bazıları ise farzı kifaye olduğunu söylemiştir.

Bayram tekbirleri: Peygamber efendimiz (sallallahu aleyhi ve sellem) bayram günü sabah namazından üçüncü günü ikindi namazına kadar daha önce belirttiğimiz şekilde tekbir getirirlermiş.

Allah bizleri bu günleri hakkıyla geçirmemiz için yol göstersin, ecrini kat kat versin…Amin

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Eid-ul-Fitr 2012

Happy belated Eid everyone :))

 

It’s been a while since my last post..and I’ve been meaning to post something for such a long time. I did bake a few things during this time, however due to time constraints and a busy schedule, I couldn’t take photos. I will be making those ‘goodies’ once again in a more peaceful time…and I will post them soon. Right now, I have a slight health problem. Turns out I have gallstones causing me an immense amount of pain :( Times like these where I can actually sit and write something have lately become rare…please pray for my speedy recovery…

Ramadhan has finished, and after the end of Ramadhan, muslims  have a celebration/festival that marks the end of the month of fasting called Eid-ul-Fitr or Festival of Breaking the Fast (I guess) :)) There are two Eids in an Islamic calendar, and this is one of them. For this Eid, as I mentioned above, I did bake some things…however this post is not about food. It’s more about Eid, family, how traditions are with different families…and how traditions evolve throughout the years.

In the morning of Eid (the day right after the last day of Ramadhan) Muslims all around the world dress in their best outfits and get ready for Eid prayer. After the prayer, they take the opportunity to wish other muslims a ‘Happy Eid’. Then they go home and follow out their own individual family traditions.

Every family has their own culture for Eid. I know that mine does. We have been spending Eid in Saudi Arabia for a very long time and being away from our country and family made us develop our own traditions. My aunt (mom’s sister) lives in Saudi Arabia too. Every Eid, our two families would get together. I remember the excitement and happiness during those times. We would be up a large portion of the night preparing for the next day. Mom and aunt would be in the kitchen preparing the sweets (various Turkish sweets) for the friends that would visit the next day. We (my cousins and sisters) would be up tidying and decorating the house. The next day when the men would come home from Eid prayer, we would kiss the elders’ hands (Turkish tradition) and wish them a Happy Eid, and then we would prepare the first breakfast after Ramadhan….and my oh my…it would really be a huge and rich breakfast. But that first bite, or that first sip would be so hard, after a month of not having anything in the morning. After breakfast, we used to tidy up everything quickly and get ready for the ‘gifting’ ceremony :))

 

Breakfast photo with the newly discovered ‘sketch’ feature of my camera ;)
Older Brother Junaid (Cuneyt), dad and Mohammed :))

 

Here’s the thing, in my family, the parents would get gifts for all of the children. As we got older, we started getting gifts for the parents too. The grandparents used to give us a bar of chocolate or ‘cash’ :D

Oh and the whole year, parents would be preparing for these Eids, listening very attentively to anything we may have in our ‘minds” wish-list. So you get a gift and you open it and its exactly what you had been wishing for..or close :D And the children get accustomed to this at a very early age…when they see something they like, they start bargaining with their parents and say “ok, get it for Eid” :)

 

Noor and Bedir (niece and nephew) having breakfast and posing

 

With the change in times, traditions evolved. Now we pretty much do the same things we used to…with a few slight changes. Eid-ul-Fitr these past few years falls onto the middle-easts’ summer months…August, September. There are many families that travel to their home countries during these months, including my aunt’s family. In addition, the family has quite a bit of additions to it, be it children or spouses. Since all the family members get together with the exception of my oldest sister who is living in Texas, my parents send her and her family their Eid gifts via technology…aka Internet ;)

My parents gift all of us, including the children; we gift my parents (meaning we all chip in and get them a gift), and we also gift the children. And lately dad has been adding an Eid allowance for us..or ‘Eidiyya’ as they call it around here..yaay :))

A little bit of something for nieces and nephews :)

 

Then we start preparing for friends to visit. As tradition holds, since my parents are the oldest Turkish family within the Turkish community where we live, out of respect, family friends visit our house first. Before, the tradition was to serve Baklava or any other kind of syrupy Turkish dessert but you can imagine what a whole day of eating syrupy desserts can do to a persons blood-sugar and hunger level. Now with the change in time, a variety of items have been added to the Eid menu such as salads, boreks, stuffed vine leaves, and many many more.

 

Bilal and Leyla

 

After I got married, the events of my Eid have changed slightly for me as well…because I have to adapt to the traditions of Mohammed’s family (my in-laws) and find a way to balance both. Of course they’ve changed for Mohammed too..as he has adapted to my family’s traditions :)

 

Sketch feature again :)
Noor and Leyla (Cousins) playing on the iPad

 

The morning of Eid, we go to my father-in-laws house where we wish him a happy Eid. He has a tradition of serving rice with lamb, and everyone has to have at least one spoonful. We spend a couple of hours there, and then we head to Mohammed’s oldest uncle’s house where the whole family gather. The children are given ‘Eidiyya’ or money for Eid :)) We have lunch there, and we start our 1-hour journey (if we’re lucky) to my parent’s house in Saudi Arabia. During this time though, we miss the events at my parents’ house…the big breakfast, the gifting ceremony, and some of the visits…so they put our gifts aside and take loads of picture to show us how it went.

Those are some of the events of Eids for my family and in-laws :))

Next Eid is in about two months…and the planning has already started ;))

 
 

 
 
 
 

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Istanbul Holidays

Since 1980, ever since we left Turkey to live in Saudi Arabia, every summer we would visit Istanbul. My grandparents lived there, and most of our relatives were there. When I was younger, to me it was not the place I belonged to but rather the place I vacationed at. Now, as I get older, the bond between Turkey and me, in particular between Istanbul and me has grown stronger. It’s my city…and I miss everything about it. The sea, the sun, the wind, the crowdedness, the public transportation, the view..and the list can go on.

This summer, for the first time in 32 years, I went to Istanbul with friends.

The friends I travelled with were tourists, and I was somewhat a tour guide. However, unlike many tourists going to Istanbul from this region, I kind of had them travel around the city like natives do.  A bit of taxi, a lot of tram, a bit of ferry, some bus, and some subway…it was a nice experience.

If you want to use public transportation in Istanbul, you need to keep in mind that cash is not accepted anymore. For the ferry and subway/metro you can always use tokens…but for the bus you need to have an Akbil or Istanbul Kart. I do suggest buying an Istanbul Kart because they’re easier to find and you can use them on almost all forms of public transports. You can find them at newspaper stands next to main bus-stops (like Taksim) or ferry ports.

 

The metro and subway are very convenient forms of transportation…You can easily check out where you want to go on the map from here.

Istanbul is a city full of history and culture. There are some places that I haven’t even been too, just because I am native..it’s funny how when you travel to your home town, you delay visiting the touristic sites because you have this thought ‘oh I can come here any time’, and then you just end up missing out on all the fun!

This summer, thanks to my friends, I got to go to places I hadn’t been to, or places I hadn’t seen in ages.

I had never been to the Hagia Sophia..and it was a place that takes you to another time. With the chandeliers and the tight tunnel-like passageway leading to the second floor. You can envision the people that were there hundreds of years ago.

 

 

We also went to Topkapi Palace museum…I had been there before when I was much younger and couldn’t really recall much. When visiting a place with a lot of history, it’s amazing how in our minds time travel is definitely possible!

 

The view from the terrace of Topkapi Palace was breathtaking.

And of course, we did go to the Anatolian side of Istanbul. That side is ‘my’ side…in the sense that my parents were born and raised there, and all our relatives are there.

We took a ferry ride…and if you like the sea, you will love these ferry rides! You just have to make sure you sit outside :) and of course, if you have some bread with you, you can feed the seagulls in the air…I mean literally feed them in the air!

 

 

If you are planning a visit to Istanbul, here are a few recommendations my brother, T, prepared and generously shared :)) Thanks T.

 

Visiting Istanbul:

Misir Carsisi (Pronounced Misir Charshisi) (Egyptian Souk/Bazaar):  This is an old market with lots to see and buy. Bargaining is a must! Directions: You can take a taxi to Eminonu. The Bazaar is immediately next to Yeni Cami (Yeni Mosque).

 

Kapali Carsi (Pronounced Kapali Charshi) (Grand Bazaar): The Grand Bazaar is one of the largest covered markets in the world with 60 streets and 5,000 shops, and attracts between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily. It is well known for its jewellery, hand-painted ceramics, carpets, embroideries, spices and antique shops. Bargaining is a must! Directions: You can walk to this Bazaar from the Sultan Ahmet District. Also check with your hotel. www.grandbazaaristanbul.org

 

Sultan Ahmet District: This district has lavish gardens and is the location of the Sultan Ahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque) and the Hagia Sophia Museum (Church – Mosque). You will also find many shops that sell souvenirs. Directions: From the Misir Carsisi, there is the “Eminonu” station for trams. You can buy tokens for the and take it all the way up to the Sultan Ahmet District.

 

Sultan Ahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque):  This is a historical mosque popularly known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior. It was built between 1609 and 1616. While still used as a mosque, the Sultan Ahmet Mosque has also become a popular tourist attraction. www.bluemosque.org

 

Aya Sofia Museum (In Greek Hagia Sophia): is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul. From the date of its dedication in 360 until 1453, it served as the Greek Patriarchal cathedral of Constantinople.  The building was a mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931, when it was secularized. It was opened as a museum on 1 February 1935. www.ayasofya.org

 

Taksim Meydani (Taksim Square):  This area is a major shopping, tourist and leisure district famed for its restaurants, shops and hotels. It is considered the heart of modern Istanbul.

 

Bosphorus Tours: The Istanbul skyline is justifiably one of the most famous cityscapes in the world, and while there are many places from which to admire it, by far the best is the deck of a boat on the Bosphorus. After the bustle of the city centre, a day trip up the Bosphorus gives you an entirely different perspective on the city where you can view many key locations. I am sure you may find many cruises at different times of the day. www.bosphorustour.co

 

Miniaturk: This park contains 120 models done in 1/25th scale. 57 of the structures are from Istanbul, 51 are from Anatolia, and 12 are from the Ottoman territories that today lie outside of Turkey. www.miniaturk.com.tr

 

Topkapi Sarayi / Topkapi Palace: the official and primary residence in the city of the Ottoman Sultans for approximately 400 years (1465-1856) of their 624-year reign. The palace was a setting for state occasions and royal entertainments and is a major tourist attraction today, containing the most holy relics of the Muslim world such as the Prophet Muhammed’s cloak and sword.

 

Princes’ Islands:  During the summer months the Princes’ Islands are popular destinations for day trips from Istanbul. As there is no traffic on the Islands, the only transport being horse and cart, they are incredibly peaceful compared with the city of Istanbul. They are just a short ferry ride from Sirkeci/Eminönü, Kabataş and Yenikapı of Istanbul. Make sure you are well aware of return boats and the timings when you land on the island.

 

Dolmabahce Sarayi / Dolmabahche Palace: served as the main administrative centre of the Ottoman Empire from 1856 to 1922. www.360tr.com/dolmabahce/

 

212 Istanbul Outlet Mall:  This is a nice Outlet Mall, good brands, good prices and nice place for shopping and dining.  www.212istanbul.com

 

What to Eat:

  • There are a vast selection of Kebabs. A favourite is Adana Kebap (It is like Sheesh Kebab but spicy)
  • Iskender Kebap
  • Manti
  • Gozeleme
  • Baklava (Specifically at Karakoy there is GulluOglu for Baklava). This is the most famous in Istanbul where you can find Lokum too. You can go to Karakoy by tram and ask for directions from there.
  • Doners: Make sure to have it in half Turkish Bread. Either that or Pide bread.
  • Turkish Ice Cream especially Maras Dondurma.
  • Turkish Tea (Steam Cooked)
  • Most restaurants have ready Turkish food. The variety is great and the taste is very good, like home cooking: Konyali in Eminonu and Haci Abdullah (Pronounced Haji Abdullah in Taksim). Haci Abdullah has authentic Ottoman food.

 

Notes:

  • Istanbul has many other great touristic attractions like Galata Kulesi, Kiz Kulesi, Camlica (Chamlija), Ortakoy etc. Your hotel will have many suggestions and guides so feel free to ask.
  • When you are shopping at regular shops (not the mall, supermarkets or branded shops) I suggest you bargain, a lot!
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