Monday, May 14, 2012

Turkish Delight

Sunset at St. Nicholas Island
 I am getting pretty sleepy...must be all the tryptophan from all that Turkey! I have had an excellent time here and have had many great experiences beyond any of my expectations. I think the strangest part is that I still do not feel as though I can place of my finger on this country. I can't sum it up with a few short words or really nail down a distinct identity. The diversity is amazing and the blend of eastern and western cultures is impressive. But, since I do want to wrap up this leg of my journey, the following is a list of some highlights:
  • Food! Discovering my love for kebaps and walnut baklava.
  • New friends. Between the local employees at my hostels, students traveling to visit family, bonfires at Atilla's Getaway, and random strangers off the street, I have had some great conversations and enjoyed getting to know a variety of people.
  • It's an artform to make something that delicious
    My Blue Voyage: rolling out of bed to a feast of a breakfast and a swim in the Mediterranean? I think yes.
  • First views of the inside of the Hagia Sophia. I wasn't expecting much (sometimes it's easy to get museum/mosque/ruined out, but this was a powerful experience.
  • There is only one and it isn't even that bad! I was simply overwhelmed at times by the amount of people in Istanbul. Between the sprawling masses of the city and the hoards of tourists, it was insane rush hour all the time. Even at three in the morning there are heaps of people walking around and doing business. So when it's hot, you're hungry and tired, this crowds of people can be a bit oppressive. That being said, I understand why so many people live in Istanbul. It is an exciting place with so many great things to offer.
Inside the Hagia Sophia
All in all I would definitely count Turkey as a success. I enjoyed the beautiful scenery, the friendly people, the beautiful ruins, and the outstanding food. I hope, in the future, to explore more of the coastline (including the Lycian Way) as well as delving further east. It is a country of many contradictions that somehow makes it all work. From my experiences, a successful melting pot.

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