Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sabanci Mosque in Adana

The most famous landmark in Adana, Turkey (the city that we call home during our Middle Eastern adventures) is the Sabanci Mosque.  This mosque was completed in 1998 and is Turkey's largest mosque!  It is an achitectural masterpiece.  This massive landmark, located in the heart of downtown Adana, is almost always used as a reference point when giving directions: "then you turn right at the mosque...".  Everyone knows where the mosque is. 

Our good friend, Sefer, joined us as we took a peek inside our first mosque.  Sefer patiently answered all of our questions and was an excellent guide.  Here's a look at what we learned:

The Sabanci Mosque has an impressive six minarets. 
The area around the mosque is covered with beautiful gardens and fountains. 

Before entering the mosque for prayer, one must wash their face, hands, and feet.  Here is one of the areas that one can clean up before prayer.  One must wash themselves every time they read the Koran, even before reading privately in their own home. 

Here we are inside of the mosque!  We had to take our shoes off before entering and I had to cover my head with a scarf.  Since it was not prayer time when we arrived, the mosque was very quiet.  There were only a few people there quietly saying their prayers. 

Here we are with Sefer!  Behind us are two men saying their prayers.  They must facing the wall behind us for prayer- in the direction of Mecca. 

A devout Muslim prays 6 times a day.  Each of these prayer times takes between 10-30 minutes.  The Call to Prayer sounds throughout the streets to remind them.  The times are based on when the sun rises.  This clock inside of the mosque tells the prayer times for that day. 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Yumurtalik: A Day at the Beach

We recently spent a relaxing, sunny Saturday at the Mediterranean port village of Yumurtalik with some of our friends.  Yumurtalik is a little less than an hour from our home.  (Being Midwesterners, we still marvel at the fact that we are less than an hour away from the Mediterranean Sea!)  Yumurtalik has a relaxed beach town atmosphere complete with little shops selling bikinis, kabobs, and beach balls lining the road.  A local university was having a sand volleyball tournament that day.   The sand volleyball and pop music added to the fun, carefree atmosphere of the day.

The water was blue and cool, the sun was warm, and we had our section of the beach almost all to ourselves.  (Other than some daring college students and a carefree preschooler splashing in his underwear, most Turks think that it is way too cold in May to go to the beach.)  We spread out our beach towels and snacked on some doner kababs that we had picked up at a nearby shop.  Doners are made of lamb meat cooked on a vertical spit and sliced off in thin strips.  The lamb was wrapped in a thin, tortilla like bread with delicious spices and veggies.  Yum! 

I love watching Peter at the beach.  I wish I could take him every day.  He was in heaven.  He spent his day patiently scooping sand with his shovel and dumping it into the water, giggling as the waves splashed his legs, and filling up buckets.  Normally a very cautious little boy, he seemed fearless as he ran into the waves and splashed.

Peter with his shovel and bucket

Our Day at the Beach! 
Notice the castle built on the island behind us. 
It was built to protect the harbor.

The Rary family joined us at the beach. 
Their son patiently let Peter "help" him build a sand castle.