Final musings on Turkey

Trip Start Sep 07, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Istanbul is a shock to the senses! After a month in mostly small towns in Greece and Turkey, the 13 million people in Istanbul are overwheling to say the least! It is big, loud, and dirty. At the same time, it is an interesting blend of old versus new. The city is divided between an Asian side and a European side, and has a much more modern feel than the rest of Turkey I have visited.

I saw the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, and the Grand Bazaar. I took a Bosphorus cruise, and went out to the bars in Taksim. The traffic is a complete nightmare, and everyone lays on their horn all the time! Traffic rules mean nothing, red lights are merely a suggestion and lines for individual lanes might as well not even exist. It is pretty easy to navigate though, with an extensive bus system and most of the sights located in a central area.

Ramazan did not seem to be widely practiced by most of the people I talked to, most of the younger people seemed to think that it was fine for their parents, but outdated for them. Many of the girls don't cover their hair, and those that due tend to use more modern fabrics and stylish dress.

My final impressions of Turkey are great. I would describe it as a very friendly culture, where people are often willing to go out of their way to be helpful. A lot of the smaller areas are very poor, and people work very hard to make ends meet. It has some of the most amazing sights I have seen, such as the Pammukale travertines and the Cappadocia region. I would definitely recommend it as a great place to visit, and I have not once felt threatened as a female travelling alone. Do wear dark sunglasses and keep your head down though when you pass the carpet shops!! Those guys are relentless, but entertaining.

On to Berlin...
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