Last November, hot off the World Travel Market,1 I spent a few weeks exploring Turkey and although it has been one of my least favorite trips it was still a remarkable country. It wasn’t Turkeys fault I didnt enjoy myself it was the mistake of going on a tour in a country that did not need it.
I felt like I didnt have any significant, authentic experiences since I
was just being toted around via bus from place to place with out being able to do any real exploring. I felt like I saw monuments and museums but not what Turkey is really like. The grity under belly or even the inside of a hostel bar. I stayed in 5 star hotels and ate from wonderful buffets. I know listen to me whine about having to stay in luxury. Maybe it is because I am not used to it or maybe it is because I feel like it is impossible to have a real experience when what is being served to you is so high end I could barely afford a drink in the hotel bars.
Give me a packed hostel room and a hole in the wall bar and I would be much happier. Regardless of the experience I had I yearn to go back and explore it all over again. For now I am just going to stay positive and list all the wonderful things I did like about Turkey.
1) Vegetarian Options!
Although I am not a current vegetarian, I was for a really long time. I appreciate any country where it is easy to find non meat dishes. The flavors of Turkey are so diverse and fresh. Every day I ate olives and fresh cheeses, tried different veggie based stews and enjoyed Turkish coffee. Any country that celebrates cheese and coffee is a country for me.
Maybe this seems like a no brainer but this city boasts some of the oldest and interesting historical buildings in the world.
Aya Sofia, Blue Mosque, Topaki Museum and the Grand Bazaar? You could spend weeks just exploring this cultural hub. It is east meets west and there is so much to see.
This might seem weird but I love the traffic in other countries. It is so chaotic and there always appears to be no rules. In Istanbul there are barely any lights. I don’t see how there aren’t accidents every second. When I was in Egypt a cab driver told me they don’t have rush hour but rush day. As far as I can see it is the same here.
4) Mannequins anyone?
What is up with the creepy mannequin stores? They are literally everywhere. Small children, women, men whatever kind you want you can get it. My real question is : why would anyone need so many mannequins?
5) Turkish Hospitality
Two times I was invited into different homes during my journey by people who did not know me from a hole in the wall. Both times they barely knew English. Each time food, wine and laughter was shared. Sometimes I am told that what I do is dangerous and that people can’t be trusted. Never on my travels have I encountered this. Every time my faith in humanity is strengthened by strangers and kindness. Be open to things and the experiences you have will be epic.
I am not going to lie. I thought they were made of ice. They are not. They are calcite but the scenes are none the less breath taking. The landscape is so unique it is possible I will never see anything like it again. You also can’t get in the hot springs, the pictures lie.
7) The Ruins
Turkey is not short on ruins and maybe none as great as Ephesus. It is only 20 percent excavated and is still the largest ruins ever unearthed. It is astounding and surreal to stand before structures so old I am not even sure I understand them. To think about how past people lived and what people might think in years to come of how we live now.
These are just a few of the remarkable things I encountered while in Turkey. There are so many things I learned a long the way. Have you been to Turkey? What should I see on round two? Any explanations on the abundance of mannequins?