Published: June 2nd 2008June 2nd 2008
Springtime in Turkey
We went to Turkey, basically because Turkish Airways was offering cheapest tickets to Dusseldorf at that time and there was an opportunity to take a stopover at Istanbul.
Istanbul has always fascinated me ever since I have seen the movie ‘That man in Istanbul’, so first we decided to see the city for 2 days and come back.
But then I started reading about Turkey and found to my surprise that there much more to Turkey than Istanbul.
Before I stared to ‘read up’, all I knew about Turkey was that it is famous for Turkish baths, Turkish towels, Turkish coffee, Turkish tobacco and Turkish Delights.
Ah ! The last-named!
BTW, Do YOU know what Turkish Delights are?
When I phoned my brother and told him that I would be going to Turkey and maybe bring some Turkish Delights for him, his reflex reaction was “What, are you bringing me a few Houries for a Harem?”
He thought Turkish Delights were the delights of a seraglio.
I was zapped, but then I started suspecting that maybe most of the people do NOT know what Turkish Delights are.
test my theory, I asked Avi, what he thought the Turkish Delights were. He thought they were the Delights of a Turkish bath, a hot and cold shower, a massage, scented cosmetics etc.
“No, no, Dad, I am sure Turkish Delights are those special cigars with Turkish tobacco.” my daughter said. She was wrong, of course.
Only Ingo, my son-in-law knew that they are those jelly-like sweets available not only in Turkey but everywhere.
This confirms my belief that not many people know what Turkish Delights are, but now, at least my readers know.
Thus, having cleared up the mystery of Turkish Delights, I proceeded to read up on Turkey and discovered that there are many more touristy sights to be seen in Turkey.
So, instead of taking a 2-day city-break, we decided to take a regular 10-day sightseeing tour.
For dry details of Turkey’s history, geography etc, please Google or Wiki the Internet. Read this blog for my own impression of Turkey.
Turkey is a beautiful country, blessed as it is with Black Sea to the North, Sea of Marmara to the west and Mediterranean Sea to the south. Armenia and Azerbaijan
separate it from Caspian Sea in the east.
Istanbul, though not the capital of the country, is a beautiful city straddling the Bosphorus Straits, which traditionally marks the boundary between Europe and Asia. However, as per the political needs, this notional boundary between Europe and Asia keeps on shifting and now it is at the Caspian Sea.
(The name Black Sea had always intrigued me. Now I have found out the following link that gives the answer.
I suppose writing travel-blogs has this kind of iffy advantage (?). I mean you read up and find out many interesting things about out Planet Earth, but then, the downside is that you immediately want to go there and see for yourself - leading to a lot of expenditure, legwork and tiredness. )
Whether you get a good view of the Bosphorus from the plane depends upon the direction of approach, daylight, weather conditions etc. While we were going from Mumbai to Istanbul, we did not get this view but when we came from Dusseldorf to Istanbul, we did, and what a beautiful view it was! We could clearly see the broad, blue-green Bosphorus with airy, wiry
bridges thrown across it and the Golden Horn sticking out like an outstretched arm from it. The city sprawled all around it.
Yes, Istanbul is a very populous city with the usual urban nightmares of traffic jams, sky-high estate prices, pollution etc. The smokers of cigarettes, both men and women, aid and abet the vehicular traffic in polluting the air.
A Turkish man, whom we met at the airport and who had settled in USA, told us that he loved his native city, Istanbul, but he will never come back and settle there because of three things - high cost of living, traffic, and smokers. When we protested that Istanbul is a lovely city, he told us the following story.
A man died and St. Peter asked him at the Pearly Gates, which place he wanted to go to - hell or heaven. The man said that he would like to see a ‘preview’ of both the places before making up his mind. Accordingly, St. Peter first showed him a place where people in white robes were flitting about plucking the strings of their harps in a half-hearted manner and with a bored expression on their faces.
Colors of Spring
Then he took the man to the other place, where interesting people in bright clothing were drinking, smoking, flirting with pretty girls and were, in general, having such a good time that the man immediately told St. Peter that that was the place he wanted to go to. St. Peter asked, “Are you sure about it?” The man was sure.
When the man was put in hell and started suffering the tortures, he said accusingly to St Peter “This is not like the place you showed me.” To which St Peter blandly replied, “I showed you the ‘demo’ version of hell.
“The view that the tourists get of Istanbul is the ‘demo’ version.” The Turkish/American man said in conclusion.
However, the ‘demo’ version of Istanbul was made so attractive that we fell in love with the place. It was the spring time and the whole of Istanbul was in bloom. I will always remember the colorful profusion of Tulips, Wisterias and Roses that lined the sidewalks, adorned the traffic islands and climbed over the sides of the houses. (I mean the Wisteria and the Roses, being creepers, climbed the walls of the houses, but the dignified Tulips have their bulbs firmly planted in the ground and do not indulge in such monkey-tricks.) It was paradise. We found later that a dark purple kind of wildflower that carpeted the Turkish countryside was even more beautiful than the cultivated varieties of flowers. When the yellow rapeseed fields were interspersed with patches of these purple wildflowers and red poppies, the medley of colors looked as though a very large canvas was painted by a flamboyant painter when in a particularly euphoric mood.
Ah, the Tulips!
Like most of the people, I had always associated tulips with Holland. However, when I started reading up on Turkey, I discovered that the credit for cultivating the bulbs should go to that country. I am giving the link below.
In fact, Istanbul was celebrating the “Tulip Festival’ during the week that we were there.
I suppose, this is enough for ‘starters’. (I prefer this word to “hors d’oeuvres”. I mean who wouldn’t except the French? Just look at the spelling. It also makes you feel as though you are eating horse-flesh patties. )