Not sure why I haven't shared this story with you all before now, so:
A few years ago, we decided to spend four weeks travelling around Turkey using inter-city and local buses. Leaving from our home near Çeşme (İzmir), we travelled as far East as Mardin and Diyarbakır then up to the western Black Sea coast via Cappadocia, Ankara and Safranbolu.
We arrived in Mardin at about 5 p.m. when it was just going dark and headed for the hotel we had in mind from the Rough Guide (we rarely leave home without it!). It was all shuttered up! At that time many hotels and pansiyons had closed due to the rather unstable political situation in the area. A dolmuş driver directed us to another one which hadn’t a lot going for it. To be honest it hadn’t anything going for it – except perhaps a seedy reception area, grimy corridor and filthy bathroom. Goodbye!
We wandered down the main street (it was getting quite dark now) and decided to ask for some local advice. A young lady was just leaving a bank, heading home after a hard day’s work. Did she know a reasonable hotel? Yes, she did, close to where she lived. So we jumped on the nearest dolmuş together.
About 10 minutes later, we got off right outside a rather expensive looking hotel. Still, there didn’t seem to be another option. “Come in for a coffee first and meet my husband”, suggests new friend Meltem. So we did. Then, would we like a glass of wine? (of course we would!). And a little later, “Why not stay and have a meal with us?” Well, why not?
At around 8.30 we said we really must leave to check in at the hotel, “Oh no, you don’t. You must stay the night with us here. We’d love you to.” So we did and enjoyed a really pleasant evening.
Meltem was a lawyer with one of the main Turkish Banks and her husband a Judge. The following morning he telephoned the court office to say he would be late in – well he did want to have breakfast with us before he left.
Where else in the world would you find such hospitality – especially to two complete strangers of a different nationality wandering the streets at dusk?
"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step"
Lao-tzy, Chinese Philosopher (604 - 531 BC)