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Last spring, a girl friend and I ventured through a road less traveled and ticked Turkey and the Middle East off our bucket list.

I was so blown away by the exotic charm of Turkey and Istanbul. I’m still so intoxicated by its allure, I can’t help but fantasize whenever I close my eyes and reminisce about the amazing ten days we spent in Turkey. I remember sitting on top of a panoramic restaurant overlooking Istanbul’s skyline on a foggy and drizzly afternoon having our last apple tea.

There are so many things about that trip that make me happy. I love it when the ancient and modern Istanbul are both visible in the skyline, when the Sultanahmet mosque and Hagia Sofia are both bathe in amber tones and a flock of birds are romancing us with their songs. The stark contrast of the blaring call to prayer and the sweet songs of a thousand birds circling the mosques make my heart flutter.

I delight in watching the lives of the locals and tourists intertwine in Eminonu, Istanbul. The locals go about their daily lives – praying then haggling for spices at the Spice Bazaar, seemingly oblivious to the herd of tourists who have overtaken their city. I can enumerate countless other things about Turkey. Instead, let me share some more pictures I took during that trip:

An elderly gentleman basking in the sun in front of the Blue Mosque. This area has a lot of concrete benches. It also faces a beautiful promenade opposite of the Sultanahmet mosque. Because of this, it is the perfect place to people watch while resting and snacking on all the Turkish delights being sold in front of you.. or pretzel or corn for that matter.

I couldn’t tell if he was praying or just shivering from the chill of that morning. He was sitting on a bench around the tourists area, near Hagia Sofia. I thought the resulting photo is very poignant.

“I wanna grow old with you” – That’s what comes to mind every time I look at this. What a beautiful portrait of growing old with the one you love. Of course, they could be brother and sister hehe. I took the liberty of interpreting them as lovers.

Turkiye, thank you so much for the enriching and edifying experience; for sharing your amazing culture and your beautiful people. Tesekkur ederim! Have you been to Turkey or to the Middle East? If so, what do you think of that region? What’s your favorite thing about traveling?