Ramadan Kareem to my Muslim brothers and sisters around the world. Whether you are Muslim or not, Middle East travel during Ramadan is an experience in itself, but how more unforgettable would it be by celebrating the breaking of the fast, or having iftar, in a unique way? It is definitely possible in several Middle Eastern countries. Today, I give you more ideas to have a different iftar in Turkey and Palestine. Hope you enjoy them!
Traditionally, Turkish people gather on the lawn surrounding the Agia Sophia and Blue Mosque in Istanbul to have iftar. Not only people from the capital, but other nationals from Anatolia also travel here every day during Ramazan (Turkish for Ramadan) every day. If you are a tourist or traveler, however, then this experience will be indeed magnified and a sure-fire highlight of your Middle East travel. So foreigners, make sure you have at least one iftar in Turkey on any of these two areas in Istanbul! Simply bring a blanket and a basket full of food, sweets, drinks, etc. as you would to a picnic. To make this experience even more Turkish, make sure you bring Turkish delights and some kebabs *wink* or you could simply go there empty-handed and buy all you need from street vendors: Another great way to interact with the locals and perhaps even practice your Turkish!
Having iftar in a predominantly-Jewish territory might be considered tricky by some. In fact, as I did my research, I could not find any “special places” or events around the country to have iftar or “”unique iftar experiences” through the web. However, since I traveled to Palestine twice, I will give you my take on what you should do to have an unforgettable iftar in Palestine. And what is my take?
Have iftar with the locals.
It is easy: Anywhere you are in Israel, do your research and find the Arab neighborhoods. Then, also look up the iftar times for Palestine/the city you will be visiting and make sure you are around several restaurants or open spaces during iftar. It is very likely you will see people setting up at least 30 minutes prior to the scheduled time, so you will know where to go and “settle” to have iftar.
If you are traveling alone, it might be a good idea to try to hit up a conversation with a local or perhaps even a shopkeeper before a scheduled time. Ladies: Do not choose men; Men: Do not talk to a hijabi (veiled woman) or a woman in general. Why? No discrimination or anything, it is simply to be safe. You initiating a conversation with a person of the opposite sex might be misinterpreted, so it is better to be cautious and talk to someone of the same sex. Talk about your Middle East travel, how much you love the culture, and how you want to experience iftar with the locals and that is the reason you are there. very likely, your new Muslim friend will invite you to break the fast with him/her and the friends. And it will be an awesome experience to write home about *wink*
Another option is that you could talk to a Couchsurfer in the area you are in and ask him/her whether there are any special gatherings for iftar during your time in Palestine. This way, you can simply join a Couchsurfing meeting and have iftar with several Palestinians that are CSers. The group is likely to be big and well-traveled, which means a myriad of interesting conversations and a sure-fire great cultural experience =)
Alright, that’s all for today! Saturday I will include more iftar ideas to add to your Middle East travel itineraries in Jordan and Morocco (as tomorrow Friday Foto time! *wink*). Once again, Ramadan Kareem and ma3salaama! =)
Got any original iftar ideas yourself? Share them in a comment below!