Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sağol Turkey

          My most recent trip started in Istanbul, Turkey. Once I knew I was going to go to Egypt as part of class I am taking at AMBS, I knew that plane tickets elsewhere would not be that much more. I had been to Turkey twice before, but I knew there was more to explore and I gained a Turkish friend from Istanbul while she was studying in Croatia. My good friend Bekah from college happened to be visiting her parents, currently working in Lebanon, at the same time, so I convinced her to come along to Turkey for two weeks. And we had the best two weeks. We were there from December 30-January 13, 2016. We spent three days in Istanbul, then flew to Izmir, Turkey where we spent 4 days, including a day trip to Ephesus and a day trip to Pamukkale, and finally five days in Goreme in the region of Cappadocia.

The Turkish word "sağol"is the best way I can describe our time. The word is used as a way to say thank you, but literally means, "be alive." That's what we did in Turkey. We came alive. We spent two weeks constantly in awe of the world around us and felt so thankful for the people, the culture, and the amazing country we encountered. Below are two lists we made during the two weeks. There is so much to say and so many stories to tell, but I think these lists describe things pretty well. The first is just some statistics and the second is a list of (mostly) positive interactions we had.

Airplane Rides = 3
Metro Rides = 18
City Bus Rides = 1
Mini Bus Rides = 8
Train Rides = 4
Camel Rides = 1
Miles Walked = Countless
Times We Got Really Lost = 0
Times We Got Kind of Lost on Mountains = 2
Hosted Nights = 3
Hostel Nights = 11
Hostel Nights We Had the Room to Ourselves = 7 (It was not tourist season)
Days We Saw Snow = 5
Turkish Vocabulary Words = 24
Museums and Other Historical Sites We Visited = 15
Colds = 1 each
Money Julia Lost = 40 lira (around $15)
Money Spent On A Money Pouch So Julia Would Stop Losing Money = 1 lira (around $.33)
Camels Julia is Apparently Worth = 25
Socks Purchased = 4
Money Spend on Socks = 7.5 lira ($2.49)
Pieces of Baklava Consumed (by Julia) = 10
Cups of Tea Consumed (by Julia) = 34

-Borrowing a phone from a stranger at the metro station to call Sahra
-Being shown amazing hospitality from my friend Sahra and her mother
-Australian couple attempting to take our picture outside the Blue Mosque
-A snowball fight with a security guard at Topkapi Palace
-Taking to Germans on the city wall of Istanbul
-Bekah ordered water completely in Turkish in Taksim Square
-Juice vendors gave us extra juice
-Church guard let us sneak in to see the church sanctuary
-A stranger paid for our metro in Izmir
-Turkish Muslim women took our picture in Ephesus
-Minibus helper gave us mandarin oranges while we waited for the bus
-Conversation with Americans studying at a med school in Israel
-Talking with a ceramic maker
-2 hour conversation and tea with Ali, a shoemaker/store owner in Selcuk (outside of Ephesus)
-Turkish men in Selcuk helping us get to the train station
-Hostel worker giving us advice of where to go in Izmir
-Feeding pigeons in Izmir
-The doughnut truck giving us free doughnuts in a neighborhood in Izmir
-A woman offering us more of her doughnuts
-Kebab guy praising our Turkish and giving us free tea in Izmir
-Guard in art museum in Izmir attempting to talk to us in broken English
-A German Turk serving us lunch in Izmir
-A Carpet Seller in Izmir giving us tea (and not trying to sell us carpets)
-Playing Charades and Contact with other travelers in Izmir hostel
-A Man on a minibus making sure we ended up where we needed to be
-Metro workers in Izmir helping us
-Hostel worker in Goreme helping fix Bekah's shoe (twice!)
-the Afghani cafe worker in Goreme we visited almost everyday
-Urgup and Nevishir, the dogs who followed us for a couple of miles (we made up the names)
-The Turkish woman who owned the cafe where the Afghani man worked
-The cafe worker at our other favorite restaurant in Goreme
-Our tour guide for the Green Tour in Cappadocia
-The cute puppies and kitties we encountered
-Our hostel owners in Goreme giving us dinner one night
-Julia, our hostel mate for one night in Goreme
-The pigeon trainer we met on a hike
-Kittens who tried to attack our picnic lunch
-A girl showing us the bus station in Urgup
-Cafe worker in Urgup giving us free tea and popcorn
-Our new Canadian friend Kaleb who helped celebrate my birthday

I hope these lists give a glimpse into our two weeks. There is so much more to say, though, about the stories we made up and the deep conversations Bekah and I had. I feel so blessed to have experienced so much Turkish hospitality with such a great friend.

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