Stop Winching when I talk about my trip to Turkey.
When I mention in conversation that I have just returned from a quick holiday there, I generally get the most unpleasant reactions. Italy, France and Switzerland elicit squeals of delight and curiosity… but their mediterranean cousin? Not so much. But I get it. There is a global spotlight on Turkey… and it is shedding light on the mass bombings, chaos, and thousands upon thousands of displaced Syrian refugees.
Am I for a minute pretending that parts of Turkey aren’t extremely dangerous? No, I’m not. What I am saying is that there is more to this country than what hits the CNN news ticker… and that it would be an absolute shame to take Istanbul off of your bucketlist. Actually I’m going to make an argument for quite the contrary, that Istanbul should be moved up on your never-ending wander-list. And here’s why:
Istanbul is not a pop in, conquer, and pop out kind of city. This is a place you live in your entire life and still can wander down a street that feels completely unfamiliar.
While certain aspects reminded me of Greece, and others even of Morocco, Istanbul is like no other place I’ve ever traveled. It’s enchanting and magical, yet exciting and chaotic all at the same time. A place that will enliven even the worldliest of travelers. Often I feel a tinge of disappointment when I travel to a new destination only to find that it so closely resembles a place I am familiar with. Well, there were no disappointments in Turkey, believe me. Every moment of my trip was more exhilarating than the last and I found myself longing to linger in Istanbul; to extend a trip to a holiday; or even a holiday to a home.
The Turks have a long and arduous history that has displaced a cluster of religions, customs and ideals on these proud people. And so exists a melting pot… in every sense of the word. A place where shoppers will leave a precious stone shop to be called to prayer. A place where some women are completely covered aside from their eyes and others are scantily clad at Soho house sipping rose´. Istanbul is a beautiful mecca of co-existence. Where every type of traveler can feel right at home and on another planet all at the same time.
Need more of a sell? English is widely spoken, the people are friendly and welcoming. The city is unconquerable, but manageable and safe. And cheap. It is so unbelievably cheap. Your USD will stretch and stretch to the point that you’re living a life of luxury on the cost of a backpacker’s trip. The streets are colorful and vibrant with foreign aromas and exotic treats on every corner. The food is fresh and delightful, the shopping endless. And the nightlife?
Sip a drink on a rooftop overlooking the river, pass the hookah in a hidden alleyway bar with karaoke or dance with abandon at one of the heart pumping nightclubs. Whatever you prefer, you’ll never run out of options in Istanbul… or money, or hospitality, or great dining for that matter.
So why go? Really? To shake things up. To get lost. To be found.
To feel inspired.
**Stay tuned for an Istanbul Itinerary and What and Where to Eat in Istanbul!