Turkey, my new friend, you are the MOST interesting character yet! Your countryside resembles an agricultural tapestry laid out like magic carpets for as far as your vision can take you. What vibrant colors you have…from that bright creamy terracotta dirt to your mouth watering Biber RED paprika sauce to your multi colored dazzling silk scarves and vivid green grass valleys. Oh My! You can see the herders, in all different terrains, with their traditional Turkish clothing and sun caps walking their flocks of various animals and their donkey drawn carriages that dot the background of this magnetic country…pulling you in at every glance…wanting more, more, more.
The smells from oddly unrecognizable to stinky sewer gasses to fresh baked sweet bread and those smoky roasted chestnuts! Then there is the whiff of a delicious grilled lamb chop or ox tail soup, and the aroma of many fast food Kebab shops that line every street in every town everywhere! The pathways to the villages were filled with locals strolling in the autumn sun or drinking local black tea or strong overly sweetened Turkish coffee in their neighboring cafe. I loved the roadside vegi stands with little old ladies tending their tables. Emaciated dogs and cats, and puppy’s and kittens following mom roam the streets and weave between cars and motorbikes and seem to know their way to nowhere….but I found more BLACK healthy cats, perhaps a bit of superstition involved was a question I often asked. Sadly, many of the animals don’t live past their youth. I fed every single one I encountered.
You’ll find houses and buildings half built and deserted and gas stations have large Tea Urns for a cup of free tea! I saw men walking their cow and tending to their turkeys crossing the road! No, not the chicken, lol! Road work with signage is everywhere and often very steep or uneven roads and then suddenly the perfect unmarked highway! You’ll eventually find THE bathroom HOLE to squat with a sink that has no water….bring your own TP cause that in itself could be a surprising paper substance! Carry your own filtered water while you are at it. Often while on the motorcycle people would ride up along us, give us the THUMBS UP and honk…letting us know they admired our guts to ride across their country! AND it takes guts…just sayin!
Upon approaching THE CITY, Istanbul was Magnificent on the eyes, like a lavish banquet of sights and sounds! The housing density, the crowds, the incredible Mosques that line every neighborhood with it’s several calls to prayer…a mix of different vocals at each site which resembled a wailing cat on a cello intertwined with a peaceful sense of purpose…I actually found it to be soothing in some odd way….it WILL remind you however, YOU are not at home! I won’t even get into the awesome street performers or the talented Jam musicians…find that under my JamTrotting link on the menu above! Best Attended JAM EVER!!!
Although our hotel booking turned out to be a fraud (that’s another story) we were upgraded by Hotels.com to a place just around the corner from our original booking in the Taksim district. I wasn’t a big fan of the complimentary tomato cucumber olive cheese meat-product bread Nestle coffee breakfast, but a good strong tea always works for me. The hotel water sometimes turned off completely and one can only watch so much 1970’s repeat American TV or traditional singing, but I did appreciate being able to understand without the dubbing. The derelict homes around the city were so interesting to observe since most had inhabitants, and in the same breath the opulence of the incredibly rich entrepreneurs was astounding. There seemed to be much more rubbish in the city, but with the density so compact, it’s a given. Salesman in some parts can be pushy, but when you have had enough, remember the differences in economics between the familiar and the far. The G R A N D Bizarre with it’s awesome painted ceilings and wares is worth every minute of your time and walking the city is worth everyday you are there. The metro/fanicular tokens are a strange round plastic coin and a great way to get around if you can manage the machine that spits them out! Be sure to try a good fish restaurant…hmmmmm! Turkey captured my attention and I will go again…with an empty suitcase to fill with the treasures of that country!!!
On a special note…I was in Istanbul during the bombings at Ankara and I can tell you we all felt the sorrow of this senseless tragedy and that the people of Turkey want peace… and were kind and helpful people just trying to live, love and share their wonderful culture. People all over this world want the same thing, and we all unite in peace and honor each others lifestyles and differences and you can see and feel this IF YOU TRAVEL with an open mind and heart! I honor you Turkey.
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