|by Sean O'Neill||Spiritual Travel, Turkey||12|
Eid al-Fitr is the Festival of Fast-Breaking that followers of Islam are celebrating right now. Rick Steves has just blogged a post from Turkey about how this is a great time to be traveling. Here's one of his key points:
Ramadan is, in balance, a great time to travel. You don't realize it, but most people are not eating or even drinking all day. I offered my waiter a suck of my hookah water pipe. He put his hand to his heart and explained he'd love to but he was fasting for Ramadan.
If you sleep lightly, you'll wake to the sound of a prayer and meal just before dawn. Sun rises and the day-long fast begins. Then, at about 7p.m. the food comes out, and the festival begins. Mohammad broke his fast with dried date or olive—so that's usually the fast breaker to this day. Saying, "Allah Kabul etsin" (may God accept...your fast today)," the staff at a restaurant where I was just having a drink welcomed me to photo them and then offered to share.
Every time I witness the breaking of the fast, people offered to share their food. At the restaurant I said no, but they set me up anyway—figs, lentil soup, bread, Coke, and baklava. I thought the Coke was a bit odd...but my guide said it's not considered American any more. It's truly global.
This Real Deal offers a sweeping two-week tour highlighting the varied aspects of Turkish history and culture, from Istanbul to otherworldly Cappadocia to sun-kissed coastal towns like Kusadasi, from $1,649 per person—plus taxes of about $116. It's a great deal because as a BudgetTravel.com reader, you get access to the $150 special discount. (But, alas, Rick Steves is not associated in any way with this tour.)
The L.A. Times recently ran an excellent story on how the workers at Egyptian resorts feel about Western tourists when they have to serve them, especially during the fasting period of Ramadan.
Despite being five years old, a World Hum essay by Rolf Potts is one of the best travel pieces to have been written about how American travelers view Islam. (Note, his essay begins with a story about Eid al-Adha, a different festival.) Link, here.
Photo of the Mosque domes in Istanbul, Turkey, by Andrew Ward/Life File/Photodisc .