Good Morning all,
First, I want to thank ya’ll again for your guidance on what to do in Turkey, although I did almost none of them *smile*. As you know my trip was to be different from other TAers because of the fact that I was meeting members of my husband’s family for the first time and thus was not living the life of a tourist.
My time in Istanbul was a very hurried 4 days of sightseeing. I was fortunate in that my father in law chartered a private van for travel so there wasn’t a lot of walking and I had only 3 terrifying taxi rides. I did the usual: Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Bosporus Boat tour, the Grand Bizarre and the Cistern. Beyond that, I was off the tourist grid. The other days I met with the President of Fethiye University and one of the directors of Stv. We visited the tombs of the conquerer of Istanbul and several mosques (his family is very devout). We had cay in a cute caybache next to Topkapi in Gulhanae Park were I was introduced to the Kumpir. Another night was spent on top of the highest hill in Istanbul at another caybache eating dondurma, helva, gozleme, pamuk seker and waiting for the lights to shine across the city.
We traveled from Istanbul to Eskisehir by bus(5 hours but easily could have been 3 or so) and I learned that Turkish bus stops were great. Clean restrooms (I’m a neat nick) and decent food. In Eskisehir, I was able to get a better grasp of daily life in Turkey. Grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning and the intolerable habit of “hurry up and wait.” As I mentioned, my husband’s family is religious so most of the women I met were housewives (his sisters are teachers on holiday). It was just assumed that my husband would handle things while my father in law was working or back in Ankara at work. He had to drive every mile, tote every bag.. it was maddening to me. The countless visits by women who were content to sit and swelter, complain about the heat, yet do nothing about it. Friendly and warm, yes; but after six days of sitting, smiling and not understanding much of what was said was mind-numbing. There isn’t English programming readily available and since my in-laws are over 50 and that isn’t their full time home.. no internet. My son fell ill with Strep which was not treated correctly by the ENT that we visited and it returned with a vengeance on our return from Efes. We took him to the local hospital which was an excursion in the bizarre. IN the emergency room there was dried blood on the floor, filthy sinks, an over worked doctor and nurses drinking tea while reading “The Secret”. How they could consume ANYTHING in that filth was beyond me. We did get to another doctor who fixed him right up. So my opinion on Turkish doctors is kinda low..2 out of 3 medical facilities were… odd.
From Eskisehir we traveled by car to Selcuk were we stayed at two different hotels: the Sumeli and Hitite, worlds apart. We visited Efes, Mary’s House and the Grotto of the Seven Sleepers. We then drove down to Kusadasi and on to Denizli. From Denizli we went back to Eskisehir and on to Ankara were I am typing now. Presently, there’s water rationing which has affected us today.
My impression of the Turks: I got quite a few stares actually constantly. While in Istanbul it was of no consequence but as we traveled through the smaller towns and while in Eskisehir and especially in Ankara, people actually stopped and stared. *shakes head* I took it as whatever. People that I actually spoke to were incredibly warm and genuine. As a tourist, I don’t believe that you see how the average Joe lives. While at the Armada, I was unaware of what Turks contend with as far as substandard housing, lack of opportunity and an average annual income of 12K. Surely, there is a rising middle class and an upper class but it is small. Even though my husband’s family did not live in the ever present apartment but in their own home, it lacked many of the common comforts that apartment dwellers in the US take for granted.
Here in Ankara, I met two ladies who were French Turk and German Turk respectively. When I asked if they would move here and live one said, “Turkey is beautiful country but it is not a place to live.” I would have to agree.
Will I return? I seriously doubt that it will be anytime soon. His brother and sisters are planning to visit us. Definitely three weeks was too long but I do appreciate the new perspective I have on life.
Note: Once we returned, while waiting for an elevator at the airport in Houston, a Turkish woman literally pushed me out of the way to try to get on. I stopped her and told her in Turkish that my husband was on the elevator. She was so slow to move that the elevator left leaving me behind. Her husband was extremely embarrassed while he heard me explain to my mother that Turks in Turkey would NEVER behave in that manner.
I guess I’m really back in the good ol US.