I must admit that I love waking up to the sound of the call to prayer. I love eating breakfast on the enclosed terrace looking out on the Sea of Marmara. This city is very alive, buzzing and vibrant. Istanbul is ancient, sensual and appealing – even to me, a small town Texas/provincial Bay Area girl. The contrasts are sometimes staggering. I see a woman in skinny jeans, a clinging knit top, with hair flowing, then a woman covered so completely that only her eyes are visible, and also a woman in an ankle-length trench coat, with only her head covered with a scarf. I see a man in traditional Arab garb, another in a traditional western business suit, or wearing jeans and a sweater. The ancient, the old and the brand new. That is the appeal of Istanbul, that the allure of Istanbul.