Friday, December 26, 2014

Turkey.....as I saw it

First, let me explain why Turkey. I have a cousin that has lived in Turkey for 5 years, when he first went I said I would come and visit him and I meant it. It was time. It was an awesome time. 
He would leave the house at 7:15 am and return around 5 pm from work. I was on my own during the day. Turley is home to many many old old sights, historically sites and Biblical sights, however, the highlights of my trip was the early morning coffees before my cousin would go to work and the long suppers in the evening, just chatting. We have known each other our whole lives and had never spent this much time together, that was the highlight. But you're not interested in that.

Turkey surprised me by being richer, cleaner, more organized, more European, and  more expensive than I thought. Definatly very European, even the Asian side seems very European. The streets are clean, the traffic is organized, the markets are calm, the people are all in stylish clothes, clean shoes, the cars are new, the shops are posh, even the feral cats are clean and well fed. My travel experience comes from Africa, South America and Mexico, aside from a brief side trip to Paris I have never been to Europe, but I imagine it to be like Turkey. I could very well be wrong, and I was only in Istanbul, I did not travel throughout Turkey, this wasn't a site seeing trip, I was there to visit my cousin. I was there to see everyday local life. Here are my observations:

The city of Istanbul takes care of stay cats, the Muslim people love cats, this has something to do with Muhammad, and so the city takes care of all stay cats, they are  everywhere, lazing on stairs, sunning themselves on top of cars, sitting on chairs in restaurants, sleeping in doorways and on window ledges. They are clean, well feed. Randomly people put little cat houses out for them.

Older men (retired I am assuming) sit around in sidewalk cafes and on door stoops drinking tea, not uncommon to see someone hurrying up the street carrying a tray full of little tea cups. The tea cups are all the same, there is no variation in tea cups, they have a tea cup standard and they stick with it. I like that.

Every 300 yards or so I see the Turkish flag, they are a very proud people, you can also see that in their fancy cars, fine clothes and shoes. They don't buy a car unless they can afford a new shiny one, no old junkers on the road here, none. The same goes for clothes,  I did not see a Walmart, no cheap clothes, and no cheap Chinese made plastic junk stores (that  I saw).

20 million people in Istanbul  and it is quiet, no music blaring anywhere, no honking, and no venders with megaphones, no dogs barking at night, just the occasional cat fight, people aren't yelling across the street....the biggest surprise was no music. I can't even tell you what Turkish music is like, didn't hear any.

Smoking seems to be very chic and cool here.I didn't like that.

There is limited space, houses are small, no space for junk and stuff you don't use, no yards, just apartment style homes stacked one on top of another. Perhaps if you get out into the countryside homes are bigger, I'll check that out next time. Why do we have to have so much stuff to be happy, does our stuff make us happier? We have so much stuff therefore our homes are so big, therefore we need more money to pay for all this, therefore we have to work so much harder and longer and therefore don't have time to sit and have tea and a dainty therefore we pull up to a drive in and order a supersized drink and a banana split, therefore we are overweight and unhealthy, therefore our government has to spend more on health care.....I could go on.

They have amazing little sweet dainties to have with tea, I had about 6 everyday, they are only about a cubic inch in size, (or smaller) I like this, we should drink more tea at home in little cups and eat little dainties instead of our massive big mugs and huge plates and bowls of sloppy drippy desserts.

Which brings me to this, no overweight people, seriously, none. Why? Not a lot of junk food stores, people walk lots (if you can't afford a BMW), not a fast food joint on every corner, people are eating real food, drinking tea instead of pop, I did not see pop coolers in shops.....this is the only explanation that I can come up with.

It is a Muslim country so there is the call to prayer 5 times a day. I found it comforting, to me it was a sign that I was in amongst people that worshiped something other than the world, I was not walking amongst heathens and that there was something out there that they revered higher than themselves. Even though I am Christian and worship someone else than them, it was still a comforting sound.

The women dressed in Muslim dress do not appear to be unhappy and they don't seem to resent their way of dress, they seem proud and certainly don't look oppressed, they seem just as free as the non-Muslim women, if anything they look better taken care of than us North American women, and certainly take more pride in how they look. I felt fairly frumpy, dumpy and lumpy there...in Jordan as well.

The food was incredible, eating was far more important to me than site seeing. I ate meat with yogurt smothered in melted butter (you had to be there) I ate all kinds of kabobs, different kinds of meat  balls, all kinds of bread, clotted cream soaked in honey, fried cheese, a Turkish version of a stuffed potatoes, pizza with an amazing crust and of course all kinds of little dainties. I drank yogurt with water and salt (you had to be there ), Turkish coffee (yuck) and lots and lots of tea and some wine.

I discovered that I am a lazy and bad tourist, all the guide books and tours are wasted on me, I prefer to let my eyes be my guide book and my feelings be my guide. I don't have to go inside the Blue Mosque, I saw it from the outside, I ate a pita type sandwich at a place close to it. I don't have to take a tour through the great grand palace, I wandered around the grounds and  admired the pond, the plants, trees and the beautiful view of the Bospherous sea and found a little sweet shop right close to it and sampled sweets there every day. I didn't feel the need to go inside the Cisterns, I was there, but saw a large market close by and got lost in it for about 6 hours and bought some Turkish scarves and a little compact for my daughter and a Istanbul t-shirt for my grandson.  I don't need to see the home of Abraham, but I know where it is now should I ever need to. I did take a boat trip down the Bospherous sea, I love the sea and I like boats, it was nice. They served tea on board.

I discovered that neat, tidy and pretty Turkish Romeo-like men are also wasted on me, I don't want a man that is prettier than me, it seems they would be high maintenance. To make him go away  I agreed to meet him that evening in front of the Blue Mosque, but I didn't show up. I'm sorry I stood you up, you just seemed too desperate to connect with me and you called me "princess".

I've decide that expensive silk Turkish rugs should not be for sale in posh shops, they should line the sidewalks with them so we could all walk barefoot on them and everyone could enjoy them, not just the rich.

I love people that like to eat, my cousin is one of them, I loved to eat with him, we had so much fun eating. We were so good at eating we ended up in the promo photos of a new restaurant for their web site. We are eating professionals, you can hire us to eat in your restaurant, we make it look so fun that everyone else wants to come. We might collaborate and write a book about food. Stay tuned for that.  

I had a Turkish bath, apparently what I have been doing in the bathtub all these years wasn't bathing, I have never actually been clean. Nothing like a heavy handed Turkish women armed with a loufa and some amazing herbal scented soap (more soap than I have ever seen used in a bath in my life), now that's a bath. It was a 6 hour process....now to stay this clean. My skin was so soft I couldn't stop touching myself all day, and I loved sleeping with myself that night.....I smelt so good. If you go to Istanbul have a Turkish bath here. http://kilicalipasahamami.com/  Do it. They sell the soap there that they use, I wanted to buy some but, what do you do when it's all gone? Now you're addicted to it, my cousin would have to schlep boxes soap back and forth for me, so I resisted. 

Turkey was nice, I had a great time, a time I will never forget, but if my cousin wasn't living there I most likely would never go back (maybe for a bath) but as long as he is living there I may be back.


From here I went to Amman Jordan, but I had a 5 hour layover in Egypt,  had planned on taking in a quick tour but after the first 20 minutes in the airport I got spooked and huddled next to a group of Muslim women that were covered from head to toe in black, and wishing I had a black gown and head covering. The Egyptian men were way too aggressive and desperate, and a desperate man is a scary man. I would like to think that I am not easily spooked, or maybe they just got me at a bad time, tired and jet lagged, maybe my spook radar was off. I got 2 very serious marriage proposals within 20 minutes of deplaning. At first I thought it was a joke and there was a candid camera hidden somewhere, but it was no joke and me laughing and turning them down was no joke to them either. I decided not to leave the airport. I don't want to judge all Egypt by what happened in 20 minutes at an airport, however I will not be visiting Egypt alone anytime soon. Sorry Egypt. Next stop, Amman Jordan.....it was a good idea to go there....really good. Love love Jordan. Had a Jordanian sheep Sheppard proposed to me I might have said yes....it was that good. I imaginary bought an imaginary house, if Mexico ever goes away I could live in Jordan. 

Of course I always have friends in high place, my cousin lives at the top of these stairs. 

Apartment style homes that are typical in Istambul


A school, or University, I can't remember. 

Every neighborhood has a mosque

Cat on a hot tin roof

You can take a cruise in any type of boat you wish



Delicious Kabob 



The only big green space that I saw. I will say I did get a little lonesome for green in Istanbul 


Typical homes

Cats everywhere

A posh hotel, ,which there were many



Used to be  the entrance to a castle, there is nothing be hind this now except a busy street. 

breakfast, note the tea cup, all tea is served in this little cup. I now eat cucumbers and tomatoes soaked in olive oil and I have been frying my cheese.....fried cheese is the best

The famous Blue mosque, where I sat on a bench and ate a great pita sandwich that I bought from a vendor

Walking home after taking a ferry across to the Asian side......for supper of  course

A cat  house, a plastic container, what a great idea

So that was a quick tour of Turkey, as I saw it. Stick around, Jordan is next. I flew into Amman and then stayed in Ramtha the rest of the time. It was amazing, so amazing, I loved Jordan.....think I said that already somewhere. 


3 comments:

Suzanne said...

Hola, Maria, it's Suzanne here from Contessa's last year blogging conference. Nice to see you back to blogging again!

Lovely write-up on one of my favorite cities! I too love all the same things you named...the food, the Turkish bath! And the soothing call to prayer. I tried recording it with the video feature of my camera, but it didn't come out so well.

I look forward to reading about Jordon...Hope you are enjoying Mexico again this year.

Suzanne

Mary Klassen said...

Thanks Suzanne.

Contessa said...

Love this post. I want to go to Turkey!