I’ve decided to start with my visits to Turkey. I was pondering for a good while on which country should I start with. I didn’t want to start with some major country in my life like China, so Turkey seemed feasible. I actually have really fond memories of Turkey and I find Turkish people extremely welcoming and nice. I learned to say ‘Thank you’ in Turkish (in the header) and I like to drop it whenever I have a chance. And I have to admit, I have gotten free desserts (baklavas) in the past just because of my enthusiasm towards Turkey and a little ‘Thank You’ in Turkish. If not a free dessert or a tea, at least a big smile. Highly recommend to try it next time you’re at your local kebab shop (or if in Nottingham, UK, try my local Tipoo Turkish).
Kebab.. mmm.. maybe I should start with that. So when I was living in Brussels Belgium, my neighbour was this Turkish guy called Ilkay. And we used to hang out in our windows and laugh. He was funny and very nice. Back then I did not have Facebook but we kept chatting on Messenger. And years later I got extremely lucky: I never win anything, but back then I won two competitions at Nelonen. One was ‘Joan of Arc’ competition and the other one was a 1000€ gift card to Tjäreborg (a Finnish travel agency). When they called me, I was riding a bus home: I was so surprised, yet forced to be a Finn with no emotions since joyful screaming in a bus is unacceptable. But, yes, with that 1000€ gift card I bought tickets to Shanghai via Istanbul, with a 6-hour-layover in Istanbul. So I randomly called up a friend to give me a tiny tour of any part of Istanbul near the airport and take me to lunch. Innocently I did no research and got to the passport control and they asked for my Turkish visa. I was young and extremely lucky, because I just blabbered: “I don’t have one and showed my Finnish passport”. And to my surprise they had a look at it and said: “Oh yeh you’re from Finland. You can just walk through there” and pointed me on my way. So to all the Finns, no worries. The rest of you. Don’t be silly, get the visas before landing!!
So my visit to Istanbul consisted of seeing Ilkay’s cousin’s (I think it was a cousin) photography shop (Stüdyo Özbay), walking around the streets of Istanbul (I can’t to the death of me remember what the area was called) and having some Oh-My-Gosh delicious kebab for lunch. And I thought I knew kebab, but I knew nothing! So definitely when in Turkey, eat kebab! This trip to the restaurant was quite revolutionising for me. I went to Shanghai telling my friend everything about this yoghurt ‘Ayran’!! See I don’t like spicy food much, but the Turks have figured out this yoghurty drink alongside your spicy food. And it was a life saver!
Well that short awesome mini trip, hasn’t been my only trip to Turkey. When I was young, I mean it must have been 90s or early noughties, trip to Antalya was actually one of my first ever trips abroad and I loved it. I think I have about 7 photos of this trip and as you can see the quality isn’t amazing (sorry for the Finnish but these are snaps for my albums). I have to admit that there’s a bit of a child’s golden dust on my Turkey memories.
The memories I can still remember are extremely telling of my childhood and of the cultural differences that I experienced for the first time in my life:
I remember that every morning we would have these little jams at breakfast, so I would have a jam bread for breakfast every morning. Silly me thought this was a Turkey-thing but it just appears to be a hotel thing.
I remember the area being nice, although a little rough at times, and the sea view was nice. We saw some old ruins, but I’m not much of a history sort of person so I don’t remember much about them.
I remember that, when we ate at restaurants, we would have these BIG breads brought to the end of the table and, as hungry as we were, we would munch all the bread. I remember my mum arguing with the waiters that she didn’t want to pay for the bread because she didn’t order it (I guess every penny was counted). I used to think this was a Turkey-thing as well but I have encountered this technique being used in many countries and in many restaurants.
I remember visiting the bank to exchange money, because it was cheaper than any old place or our hotel. Exchanging money can be tricky nowadays too but thankfully we have credit cards!
I remember that we bought from a local market some tea grains that would dissolve into hot water. Apple tea. This.was.so.delicious.
I remember there was a lot of flies at the lobby of our hotel and, sadly, I would play with them and name them. I was convinced one of them was always returning on me when I arrived.
I remember we got all kinds of branded fake clothes and my brother bought CDs. I, on the other hand, fell in love with Turkish music on the radio and bought myself a cassette of the local artist that was playing a lot. To this day I still remember some of the lyrics to the songs, so it was played A LOT. I can highly recommend Turkish music because I finished off my Turkish second visit with buying Mor Ve Ötesi‘s CD at the airport and that CD has been well listened too.
So as you can see: my Turkey visiting has not been glorious but I do have fond memories there. So many of my friends have had holidays to Turkey and so many people recommend the country for lovely holidays. I definitely should travel again to Turkey and it’s actually one of the places where Mr Merry (that being my husband) hasn’t travelled yet. So maybe I’ll be lucky enough to get more Turkey-time in my future.
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