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I brought a soccer team to Istanbul in the fall of 2006, right smack in the middle of Ramadan. That is the month-long period of fasting during the daylight hours that Muslims celebrate every year, and nearly everything is closed during the day, so one might think that it is a lousy time to visit a mostly-Muslim country. 
I found it to actually be the very best possible time to be there. Not many people were visiting the city due to knowing about the holiday, so there were no throngs of tourists milling about. Since we were busy all during the days with the tournament, we didn't miss anything in the city. Then, once the all-clear was given for the people to eat again, the city exploded with activity. The area between the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia was a hubbub of people eating, shopping, celebrating, and just enjoying themselves. We had a great time meeting people and seeing what a lively place this could be for the locals.

Families were out in force (above), savoring special foods and treats with each other as they strolled around the square. It seemed like every person in town wanted their picture taken in front of this gushing fountain (right)!

The fruit juice and sweets sellers did a booming business (above), and the hookah cafes were open all night. These girls (left) were part of a group that sat and chatted at the table next to ours.

The shops were all open, and people were stocking up on foods for the next night's feast, and they were picking up all sorts of clothes, jewelry, and decorative items as well. I don't know if I had just visited the wrong sops before, but the prices sure seemed a lot more reasonable during this time too - part of the holiday cheer, I guess!

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