Istanbul with a Grain of Salt

Two weeks in Istanbul and I still can’t tell you what it is about this place that makes it seem so mysterious and incredible. The city itself has an amazing vibe of realness, grit, nostalgia, and yet it is full of opportunity. In this sense I would compare Istanbul to New York City with its everyday grind, its hard work and sometimes gritty people but it’s constantly growing. Unlike New York City, the culture here has a way of softening the impact of such a large and new place. The city moves in a steady fluid motion, a constant mass of people going on their way, mingling in their communities, expending a hand to their neighbors and friends, all without missing a beat. There are things we don’t experience back home yet somehow they don’t seem so foreign to me. Istanbul sort of sucked us in and wove us into its fabric that makes the city unique. An example of this was a few days ago after going to see Suleymaniye Mosque, our fearless leader Ozayr and his family took us through some back streets, up and inside a _ then on top of the structure itself and we saw what seemed to be the whole city. After we posted up and found our own little spots to sit, we heard the call to prayer. Being up so high we could hear the mesh of what seemed like 20 voices, all singing beautifully, echoing through the city and off the water. It was this moment that I closed my eyes and let all of Istanbul sink in. Though there is so much to see, the city is so much more than just the major architectural wonders, so much more than its rich history and blended culture; its a city of

Salt encrusted flaming Chicken

smells,

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sounds,

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moments of laughter,

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moments of wonder,

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memories that seem to seep from every stone and brick laid,

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and a city that has accepted of a group of crazy Gophers who have traveled a long way from home to get a taste of all that is Istanbul. So if I had to say what makes this place so mysterious and incredible is that its here; it’s at our fingertips, and day by day we blend with it as we become part of the city and it becomes apart of us.

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