Experience the Call to Prayer in Istanbul and Marrakech (Videos)

I was recently in Marrakech and Istanbul, two cities where you can hear the Islamic call to worship. 

In many countries, Adhan (in Arabic) or Ezan (in Turkish) is the call to prayer that is recited 5 times throughout each day in order to summon muslims for mandatory worship. This practice is intended to reach as many people as possible, which is why microphones and loudspeakers are utilized. The Muezzin is the person chosen for this task, based on his talent at reciting the Adhan beautifully, melodically and loudly. It is one of the most important duties in the mosque.

What are they saying? That there is no strength or power except from God. That there is no God but Allah. That Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.

The first time I heard it I was in Marrakech. I just stopped and stood still and listened. It was a truly beautiful thing. After a week in Marrakech and a week in Istanbul I can honestly say that I never tired of hearing it. In Istanbul, it sounded like a beautiful song.

My favorite part? How the different Muezzins at the different mosques seemed to be speaking to each other. You would hear it coming from one mosque, then suddenly realize it was coming from another, then another, then back to the first mosque.

Experience it for yourself.

IN ISTANBUL:

 

 

IN MARRAKECH:

 

 

How to Save Money on Urban Travel

Traveling can be expensive, especially in big cities, but I do have some advice on how you can save money and do it on the cheap. 

GO WHEN THE WEATHER IS NICE, BUT NOT DURING PEAK SEASON

If the weather is nice, you can spend most of your visit outdoors (at the beach, in a park or gardens, along the river, etc.) which will save you lots of money, so try to plan your trip for a season with decent weather. However, make sure it’s not peak season as that’s when all the prices are jacked up.

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AVOID RESTAURANTS 

Eat street food. Utilize local supermarkets. Cook. If the weather is nice, picnic in a park. The gardens at the Eiffel Tower is a popular destination for picnicking and drinking wine or beer while enjoying the power and mystique of the tower. If you really want the restaurant experience, go at lunch time during the work week when there are deals.

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Is it Safe to Travel Right Now?

IMG_0283In my opinion, there is no way to answer this question. Sorry.

I was in Paris just one month before the attack, staying just 2 blocks away from Le Petit Cambodge in Belleville. Then I was in Istanbul in December, again, just one month before the attack, staying 2 blocks from Sultanahmet’s main square.

In between the Paris attacks and my visit to Istanbul, my loved ones asked me if I was sure that going to Istanbul was a good idea. I replied, “I’m still going”. The truth is, I didn’t really know if it was a good idea, and although I did consider my options, there was never any real possibility of me canceling my visit to Istanbul. Today, I don’t have any mixed feelings about having visited these locations when I did, and I would go back to both cities in a heartbeat. And yes, I realize how lucky I am, and I am grateful.

For me personally, I decided that I didn’t want fear to control or influence my decisions. That is no way to live. The best thing we can do right now is not let the violence and terror (even if by our own volition) take away our freedom to enjoy life. Take a cue from Paris. Everyone must decide for themselves, but this is what I have decided, for me.

How to meet people at hostels when traveling alone

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Circus Hostel, Berlin

This is the final installment of today’s hostel-related posts. So, first I shared my “formula” for choosing hostels when traveling alone, and then I shared my top 5 favorite hostels of all time….but maybe all this sounds great in theory, but you’re just not sure how to approach people at the hostels once you get there. I have some suggestions.

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My Top 5 Favorite Hostels of All Time

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AT BAHAUS HOSTEL IN ISTANBUL

Pulling from my recent 4-month adventure around Europe as well as countless other hostel experiences over the years, here are my all time favorites. HOW DID I FIND THESE HOSTELS? Check out my formula for choosing a hostel when you’re traveling alone

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Choosing Hostels When You’re Traveling Alone

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Out and about in Barcelona with Hostel One Paralelo

When I travel alone I often stay in hostels for 2 reasons:

  1. It’s cheaper
  2. I meet people

Basically, if I don’t know anyone where I’m going, I’ll stay in a hostel. The more I travel, the better I get at choosing hostels, and I had such incredible hostel experiences on my most recent 4-month solo adventure around Europe that I wanted to share my latest “formula” for choosing hostels.

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How to Meet Expats in Paris

I just spent a month in Paris and have the DL on how to meet other expats living in the city.

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When I arrived to Paris I didn’t know anyone and didn’t really have any kind of plan. I didn’t know how I was going to meet people, or practice my French, or even what I was going to do with my time. So, as soon as I arrived, I went online and googled a few keywords such as “French conversation groups in Paris” and “meeting expats in Paris”. Here’s what happened….

1. Meetup.com  Continue reading