Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Changing my Tune on Turkey

I have to be honest. I was completely ambivalent about coming to Turkey. Coming here was Heather's passion, and once we did some travel planning and realized that it made sense for us to be here late April I resigned myself to being here for my birthday. I had no preconceptions, and my ambivalence was borne of nothing other than ignorance. Even after doing a small bit of research I found it difficult to get up for Turkey.

I was so wrong. Starting in Istanbul we have experienced a piece of the world that, in retrospect (which BTW tastes quite like humble pie) has greatly surprised me. It starts, as it does for most countries, with the people. Getting off the plane I had my first (semi) mass encounter with the Muslim faith as many of the travellers put their mats down in the hallway (and cleaned up first in the men's bathroom) for prayer. As someone who is not especially religious, I was struck by their discipline and devotion to their faith. I know when I get off a plane all I am looking is to get past customs, retrieve my luggage, and get to wherever "home" happens to be.

The drive into Istanbul revealed a cosmopolitan city that seemed to embrace its heritage, and made good public use of its shoreline. Thankfully we were in a section of the city (the second oldest part)where every building had to remain unchanged. Our destination was Galata Tower, where we had rented an apartment a short walk from. When we got out of the car and saw the Tower and the mixture of locals and travellers hanging around I knew that this would be good.

Chloe checking out the 'hood from our apartment

Our street
The Tower at Night

The next few days saw us exploring Istanbul, although not as much as we wanted due to Chloe coming down with a stomach bug. We wandered down Istikal Caddesi (a pedestrian shopping "street") in search of The Hunger Games.

We crossed the Bosphorus as part of our quest for the famous Blue Mosque.

The Blue Mosque 
Inside view of the Blue Mosque
We wandered down narrow side streets littered with cool looking bars and restaurants.

One thing I noticed as we wandered were the proliferation of national flags draped from many buildings. Not hung off flag poles - literally draped off the side of the building. Even big flags off of big buildings.

Then it was onto Olympos.On the way to the airport we crossed a bridge and saw a sign welcoming us to Asia! Very cool travel moment to switch between continents just like that.

At first glance it didn't exactly rock my world, but as we discovered the ancient ruins, the Mediterranean and its beach, and the very friendly people (especially at our hostel) it very quickly grew on me. Here's a little bit of what we saw:

Heather checking out the Bath
Nature's BBQ as the flame comes right from the rocks!

Chloe enjoying the chilly Med
Paul contemplating taking a step closer to 50

The beachside ruins
Now it's time to move on and experience our first Turkey night bus and Cappadocia before our short time in Turkey sadly comes to an end. 


  1. Sounds pretty epic! Thanks for posting, finding it very interesting to follow your travels. Somewhat inspiring really. oh, btw, happy B day!
    50 ain't so bad, and given the alternatives, I'll just keep on getting older for a while.... :)
    Greg Hruby

  2. Oh, and I know you are not 50, just closing in on it!! LOL!

  3. Happy Belated birthday Paul!

    And good to know you're finally enjoying that apple crumble with some humble!!!


    PS. Where's the destination for Heather's upcoming b-day?

  4. It looks like that scene in Narnia 2 at the ruins of Cair Paravel!