Turkey Is....

Trip Start Sep 09, 2013
Trip End Dec 16, 2013

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Where I stayed
Dedekonak Pansiyon Antalya
Read my review - 3/5 stars

Flag of Turkey  , Antalya Province,
Friday, October 25, 2013

Turkey is intricate like the Byzantine mosaics of the Agya Sophia and Ottoman pottery. Turkey is confounding, like the streets and street names of the Old City. You can find your way between cities easily - cheap airlines and even cheaper buses - but you can get lost by simply turning a corner. In Turkey, three right turns DO NOT get you back to where you started.

Turkey can leave a good taste in your mouth, with exquisite and pleasing combinations of mint, dill, pickled peppers, yogurt, lamb, and bulgar.... cuisine with Asian spices and Mediterranean flair. Turkey can also leave a bad taste - after the waiter has intentionally brought you food you did not order and charged you three times the price that was listed on the menu, by feigning poor English until it comes time to explain that our food was purchased 'by weight.' (To be fair, that only happened once, most restaurants were very fair as well as being very delicious).

Turkey is backwards - endemic nepotism, polluted beaches, young children and very old ladies begging on the streets. Turkey is modern - industrial, commercial, agricultural, solar powered, wireless, highways mostly fast and efficient. A common example of this paradox; most of the national historic sites have automatic turnstiles with laser scanners, but each one has someone hired to stand by and scan the ticket for you. 

Turkey is ancient - a virtual feast of history, unearthed, so accessible as you walk amongst the ruins (Ancient Greek, Roman, Biblical, Byzantine, Ottoman) to see, touch, smell and even hear... the silence of the pillars, arches, inscriptions.... there is so much of it you can easily find space between you and the crowds and the guided tours if necessary. But for how much longer? Heavy tourism brings heavy wear and tear - Turkey must (and will) protect this heritage with gates and ropes, in time... much like England now cordons off Stonehenge.

Turkey is the hard sell and the con. You will almost certainly end up buying something - a carpet, a scarf, a trinket - unless you fight your own impulse to be polite - only to find it in the next market for half the price. Turkey is kindness and hospitality, like the restaurant owner who took us in when our rental car broke down, and who argued on our behalf with the rental agency for a replacement car and not just a fix. In the end, we even got an upgrade. (If you need a divorce lawyer, find a Turk!)

The country is like Turkish coffee, so harsh and yet so strangely addicting - just don't drink the mud on the bottom. But then there is always šay (tea). Lots of šay. In Turkey, the world's problems are solved over a cup of šay.

Turkey is east and west, Europe and Asia, dirty and pristine, profane and yet so sacred. Turkey moves forward pell mell, madly off in all directions, and yet remains the bridge, the timeless crossing, for civilizations past and future. We found a Turkish folk saying which sums it up and goes like this:

Q:  Why do some people go in one direction and some go another way?
A:  If we all went the same direction, the world would lose its balance and topple. 
(Nasrettin Hoca Tales)
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