It’s been a while since I penned my thoughts down- primarily because I have been SO stretched- and most of the time away from work or well, not working as much as I usually do.
I am gonna try and focus this post on my time in Turkey- what I thought of it, what I recommend, what I loved, what I didn’t like as much etc etc etc…
#1: They need to sort out their immigration for some of the Asian and almost all African countries that have the option of visa on arrival- a 2 hour system and 5 queues later, it was a bloody painful welcome and kinda put in a bad mood for the rest of the day
#2: Women are accorded all sorts of respect but there is an unspoken understanding we are the weaker sex and we should do as the man says. I ended up adopting a fake husband to deal with the fact that I was a woman travelling alone! Infact, the only time I saw Turkish women was in the plane, in the airport and at the hammams- otherwise, all the tasks- especially those in the public eye- were accorded to men.
#3: Like the Indian men, the Turkish men feel it’s ok to stare at women. Ugh, respect people. We are not meat.
#4: Language is beautiful- there is a bit of Persian, a bit of Urdu and I presume some others mixed into their language and so I loved realising some words were exactly the same there as here.
#5: Turkish tea kicks Turkish coffee’s ass- seriously. Loved it. No milk, no sugar- and it’s gorgeous.
#6: The people have VERy strong views about whether they are European or Asian, should join the EU or not, should have open boundaries or not- they have strong opinions and stand by them- rightly, wrongly etc
#7: Their flights are never on time- 75% of my flights were late- on Day 1 by an hour meaning I got only 2 hours sleep at night, Day 2 by another 2 hours implying yet another 2 hour sleep night and finally on Flight 3, 2 hours late to get me to my mum
#8: They are EXCEPTIONALLY friendly! Everyone was keen to talk to you, everyone wanted to help you and yes, one is worried of all sorts of scam but most of the time, people just wanted to help you even if the non-guide population doesn’t really speak english and communication is tough. I recall one particular gentleman who told me to get off a metro stop too early so I could get amazing night shots since he had seen me with my camera!
#9: Cyprus is another version of Northern Ireland or Kashmir- the people don’t care of it as the government and their egos do!
#10: Cappadocia is amazingly beautiful- a must do once and definitely MUST do the hot air balloon- it was some experience!!!! I loved it
#11: Hammam is an experience and a half- I went twice thought that was a bit of an overkill but I do recommend doing it at least once. I loved the bubble soap massage that was something else! If for no other reason, give it a shot.
#12: Istanbul- a city of choices- it gives you a lot, it has a lot to offer and in many ways, it’s like Delhi. But what struck is me is how tourist friendly it is and how clean it is. I highly recommend doing the Old City yourself and walking around Sultanahmet yourself- please don’t do one of those guided walking tours unless like me, you are in a hurry and wanna skip queues to buy tickets and enter into museums etc. And oh- please please please please do the Bhosphorus, party in Taksim, walk under Galatta Bridge and eat fish and bread, walk in Egyptian Bazaar, skip Grand Bazaar, walk the city at night and take a random spot and walk back to your hotel
#13: Safety: 3 am, camera in one hand, beer in another, a lone girl walks back to her hotel… and doesn’t feel unsafe- absolutely amazing.
#14: Hospitality: The hotels will do all they can for you, the tour operators will go out of their ways but the guides are useless- I dealt with 4 in total and none of them made me feel welcome or were friendly- they look at the tourists that help them keep a roof over their heads as idiots- I understand they get frustrated with some of us, have had enough and are impatient but customer service can’t afford to show that to the client!
All in all, an amazing country- will I go back? Maybe to other spots but not one of my all time favourites…
(PS Very rare but for once, the pictures in this post can be credited to me)