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For many people, Turkish hospitality is legendary and I can't resist sharing this story with you.

A few years ago, we decided to spend four weeks travelling around Turkey using inter-city and local buses. Leaving from 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. It was all shuttered up! At that time many hotels and pansiyons had closed due to the rather unstable political situation in the area at that time. A dolmuş (shared mini bus) 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 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 Metem. 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.

Metem 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?
Yes, paroshep, you're quite right, of course.

I also think that the manner we approach people is reflected in their response and subsequently how we are accepted.

It's the old story of the man going into a bar and explaining he was a newcomer to the area and asked what were people like around here. The barman said "What were they like where you've come from?" Very friendly", replied the customer and the barman responded "Yes, the locals are very friendly here, too"

An hour later another newcomer entered the bar and asked the same question. "What were the people like where you've moved from?" asked the barman again. "Really unfriendly", replied the customer. "Yes", said the barman, "they're a miserable lot around here, too!!"

Rick Steves also recorded his experience with Turkish hospitality in several episodes of his series. Centuries earlier, travel writer Ibn Batuta testified that the Turks are the most hospitable people he had encountered. All this has put Turkey on my want-to-see list.
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