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Creating the Ramadan Spirit : The largest Iftaar picnic in Istanbul

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My dream came true this year Alhamdulillah, when I got to visit Turkey's famous Blue Mosque during the Muslim blessed month of Ramadan.


I have been living in Istanbul for 2 years, but have yet to experience this special month, or Eid in Istanbul as I have been travelling each year during this month. Before I moved here, my husband visited the vibrant Sultanahmet area during Ramadan, and spoke excitedly about the buzzing atmosphere there, and all my dreams about what Ramadan would be like in Turkey centred around this! So this year, when I could not feel much of a Ramadan vibe, or even see any change in lifestyle like people around me fasting or preparing for iftaar etc I couldnt help but feel a tad bit disappointed. I understood it was probably mostly down to the fact that I live in a largely secualr part of Istanbul (Besiktas). I knew that if I wanted to feel the Ramadan spirit, I would have to inject it myself, and that is what I have done by takig on ccertain iniatives like ift…

Creating the Ramadan spirit: Iftaar Picnicking in Istanbul

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Our days are busy in Ramadan, and especially with iftaar being quite late in Turkey during Summer, it's usually difficult to meet up with people. However one weekend, my friends and I decided to arrange an iftaar together -and the idea was formed to join in the local Turkish community who partake in these "Iftaar picnics" at beautiful spots such as the Blue Mosque, or in our case we went to what seems to be everyone's favourite musjid  - Suleymaniye Mescitin Fatih.

This fitted well into my little movement to generate a special atmosphere in Ramadan as I was missing the strong ramadan 'vibe',  living in a largely secular part of Istanbul (read my previous post),  So I was really excited to get out of the house, meet my friends and have a new experience in opening my fast!

We arrived at the musjid (cami/mosque) about an hour before Maghrib (dusk), as the sky was slowly turning darker on a pleasantly cool Summer's evening. Our setup was simple, we brought a…

Review: Sariyer Kadinlar Plaji: My first visit to a beach in Istanbul - yes it exists!

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Being brought up in a coastal town (Durban, South Africa), I am fortunate to have beach hangouts as part of my lifestyle, especially during the Summer. Which is why, this summer in Istanbul, I was on the lookout for somewhere to escape to to swim in and relax in.  I heard before that Istanbul does have beaches, but I had yet to discover for myself.

I did some online research, and had a few names of popular beaches popped up. I was especially intrigued by the "kadinlar/bayan plaji" - 'women only beaches', which had a double bonus of not being very far out from where I lived. This website provided clear information on opening hours (yes beaches here come with this!) and entry costs etc for "Sariyer Altinkum Kadinlar Plaji." However, unfortunately, there didnt seem to be alot of reviews from visitors to these beaches - on TripAdvisor, Facebook groups etc. So I was left a little unsure about the quality of the beach and whether or not it would be suitable for …

Creating the Ramadan Spirit : Attending a Mass Iftaar

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As part of my quest to foster a stronger "Ramadan feel", as especially where I live in the modern side of Istanbul I have found it somewhat absent, we attended a local mass iftaar.

The setup is that many of the local municipalities host these "mass iftaars" in the cami (musjid) courtyards, free of charge for the public. It is especially arranged for those who will not make it home in time for iftaar or are travelling, but anyone is welcome. I was really keen to attend one such event to understand a bit more of Turkish culture, and to join other Muslims in opening our fast together, a special time for everyone who is fasting.




Our local cami in Etiler has the tables set up daily and so one evening we bundled up the baby and hopped on a bus, just two stops away about half hour before Maghrib prayers. There was plenty of space available when we got there, so we seated ourselves, and then joined the long queues of people who were getting ready to collect their iftaar plat…

Overlook and Move on

First impressions of Ramadan in Istanbul

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I am living in Istanbul for the past 1.5 years, yet this is my first experience of Ramadan as I was away for the last two instances. Leading up to the month, I was quite excited to finally have a taste (no pun intended!) of what this special month would be like in the third country that I have lived in over the past few years.

About two-thirds in, and so far I cant help but feel sadly disappointed. I had high expectations given the prevalent 'Muslim' culture and rich Islamic history that surrounds you here and I felt that I would instantly feel the 'Ramadan vibe' so to speak. But it turns out, its not that simple. Yes, there are more camis (mosques) here than tube stops in London, and the adhan is heard loudly and openly almost anywhere that you are. But there is also a very strong secular side to this country, especially where we happen to be living - European side in Besiktas. Here not everyone is a practicing Muslim, participating in fasting and observing the month…

Turkish Tales: Exploring Eyup

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We have a busy year ahead of us this year, especially in the Summer and beyond, and so we decided to maximise the time we have available now and bang through our Istanbul Bucket List each weekend!

With the weather being not as warm and sunny as expected for this time of the year (back in March), we decided to do a more "inland" activity for that weekend, and something we could still enjoy with not much more than a light jacket and closed shoes.

So we psyched ourselves up for a what we expected to be an active day out, both given the distance (about 20 kms from home - about 45-60 minute journey with any given transport), packed up our bags and baby's food and snacks and headed off to the Golden Horn neighbourhood of Eyup.

Why Eyup? This place holds  high historical significance for us as Muslims where one of the close companions of the  Messenger of Allah Muhammad (may peace be upon him), with the name Abu Ayub Ansari is buried. With a fascinating story of his special rel…