Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Turkish Delight

Blue Mosque
I can hardly believe it's taken me over a week to write about Turkey!  It was such a wonderful holiday...that I almost don't know where to begin.  Turkey is an absolutely special place.  The people are incredibly kind and generous, the sights are incredible, the history is rich, and the food is out of this world.  While we only saw a very small part of Turkey, I feel we got a great introduction to the Turkish life and culture.  I traveled with my friend Katrina (another English teacher and good friend) and we spent 5 days in Istanbul and also did a 2-day tour to the Gallipoli Peninsula and Troy (more on that in another post).  While there is so much to say, I will post now just on the general thoughts/experiences of Istanbul.  In the upcoming days, I'll post on our tour and all the sights of Istanbul separately.

Our preferred mode of travel is to "wander" which probably isn't surprising given my blog title.  We found so many unique shops, restaurants, and sights this way.  One of the first things we came upon was this lovely park cafe where we had our first Turkish tea.  The tea is steeped in the small top pot and there is hot water in the bottom.  You pour about 1/3 cup of strong tea in the cup then add hot water.  It is incredibly strong but absolutely wonderful!

With all our wandering, we met many wonderful people.  Most were store owners with often very creative tactics to get us to come in and buy things.  While we often just kept going, it was nice to be greeted with smiles and happy faces everywhere we went!  In some shops, we would even get invited to stay for tea.  Turkish people are very generous and often called us their guests.  They said if we drank tea together, we would become friends.  So, several times we had tea with the shop owners and learned about their lives and families.  It was a treat for me, as often when traveling it is hard to get meet (let alone get to know) residents of a city, so I feel like I got a true feel of Turkish culture through these many conversations.

We also loved tasting the different foods (more on that from the Spice Market).  In between wandering, stopping for tea or coffee, we'd often taste new and interesting treats such as Turkish Delight (chewy candy) or Baklava.  Both became favourites for me!

A week in Turkey was hardly enough to see everything, but I feel I got a good sense of the culture and the sights of the country in just my brief stay.  I must return, as there is so much more to see and do!
View from our rooftop terrace at the hotel

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