November 6, 2009
First off. If you haven't been there, you need to put Turkey on your travel list. I've never met a globe trotting traveler (or cyclist) who didn't love Turkey—great food, amazing history, hospitality that rivals any country on earth, and lots of hills and mountain passes to climb (and descend).
Your trip will more than likely begin in Istanbul. For those looking to travel with frequent flier miles, Istanbul is in the "Europe" category and is probably the best frequent flier bargain around.
Kat and I stayed in the old city and the heavily visited Blue Mosque was a fifteen minute walk from our hotel. It was mobbed during the day, with hundreds of tourists waiting to get in and locals arriving to pray.
A friend of mine who had visited the year prior gave me a tip. "Go to the last call to prayer. The tourists will be in bed and you'll find that the mosque changes from hectic to reverent."
Wow, was he right. There were not more than 25 people there to pray. The imam's chants echoed off the 400 year-old marble walls. We heard these prayers so many times over the following three months of our journey in Turkey. But they never sounded as beautiful as that late night in the Blue Mosque.
Photo and audio recording by Willie Weir
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS is posted every other Friday. Willie Weir is a columnist for Adventure Cyclist magazine. His books, Travels with Willie and Spokesongs, will inspire you to hit the road, and might change the way you approach bicycle travel. He lives in Seattle with his wife Kat. You can read about their adventures at http://yellowtentadventures.com.