Friday, December 5, 2014

11/30/14 Day 318 Istanbul Again and Reflections on Turkey

Our last three weeks have been an amazing adventure throughout Turkey and I feel like we have learned a lot! The first and the most useful phrase we learned was "param yok" meaning I do not have any money; great for hitchhiking, awesome for declining food vendors and restaurant staff, or for any other sales pitch hurled our way. Merhaba, with a soft h, means hello and thank you is pronounced Tesheckular (tesekkür). Yes is "evet" and no is "hayir".  When counting we only ever got to 2; bir, iki. As for the rest of it, it is quite a difficult language to learn. We acquainted ourselves with some of the non Latin letters, especially Ç – ch as in "chair" and Ş - şh as in "shelf". Even without a common language the hospitality of the Turkish people is absolutely unrivaled, constantly insisting on hosting, gifting and making our stay as luxurious and as unforgettable as possible. Hitchhiking was the same story, we took approximately 10 long distance trips, many intercity rides, making for at least 50 different cars in total, driving with strangers for more than 3,000 kilometers of travel. We got rides in the middle of cities, highways, remote lifeless areas and never waited more than 20 minutes for a ride and never paid for transportation. We received chocolate, fruit, pastries and enough tea to last us for some time. It was amazing and we learned so much about the culture and language this way, as with any situation caution must always be taken, and I honestly do not think I would hitchhike alone as a female... because you never know, but traveling Turkey any other way would be a shame. Culturally the country was really surprising, it has been secular by constitution for more than 80 years now and for the most part, besides the squat toilets and architecture, it feels very European, especially Istanbul. The country is changing though, for a long time the power remained in the hands of a secular minded government, but the hands have changed and it seems to be heading back in time to a more Muslim core, with mosques being built at an alarming pace, even at Universities where funds would preferably go towards more books in the library or more petri dishes in the lab, but instead they are instead getting a huge new mosque. The current leadership seems shaky at best and perhaps doesn't prioritize many of the populations best interests, especially when it comes to women's rights. The Western culture dominates Istanbul and can't be harnessed, it is continuing to sprawl. With its 15 millions inhabitants it is currently the 6th largest city in the world. It is an amazing city that we need more time to explore, but as time allowed we spent our last few days exploring the Taksim area and enjoying our last remaining days in Europe.

Maiden's Tower an island in the middle of the Bosphorus river
Manti, Turkish ravioli for my birthday dinner at Sabirtaşi so delicious!
Turkish vegetable sauté 

This is a foaming mug of Ayran, a beverage consumed on the daily ,add from mixing yogurt, water and salt...for me drinkable, but neverwentback for seconds any of the times I was served it
You can't get it any more fresh than fired fish sandwiches straight off the boat only 7 lira, watch out for the bones

Delicious local donuts

Fishing from the mighty Bosphorus

A young boy packing up the illegal knockoff purses
But too small to carry them himself

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