I have come full circle through Turkey, returning to Istanbul to fly back to Afghanistan (to include another long layover in Dubai) tomorrow. It has been a good trip. Unexpectedly, I did not miss guards, translators (ok, honestly, I did twice), dust, guns, or long sleeves. (I gotta say that on 3 separate occasions in the past 2 weeks I was asked by a Turk how my skin is so white! How do I explain that my typically white skin turns practically ghastly translucent without sunlight on it for 3.5 months?)

I have not had much time at the hostel computers (or I have stayed places without computers) so I have been making some blog notes in my notebook, which I will add for your viewing in the next week. As a few general observations, I can definitely understand why so many people like Turkey.

Istanbul, where many travelers never get beyond the Old City of Sultanahmet, is exactly what a lot of people are looking for:

  • It has lots of interesting historical and cultural sites within a short distance of each other (Blue Mosque, Aya Sophia, Cisterns, etc).
  • English is by far the most prevalent language spoken (at times, it felt like Prague because of the language, without quite the same exorbitant prices).
  • There is a general carnival atmosphere, with street vendors selling everything from traditional snacks to corn on the cobb (I do not recommend; it is not the sweet variety) and cotton candy.
  • And of course, there are plenty of places to shop; something not to be underestimated when it comes to tourists.

While I enjoyed seeing some of the sites, I was ever thankful that I was traveling by myself. I could go at my own pace and seek out the items that interested me.

My thoughts on the rest of Turkey will have to wait until I am at my computer (thankfully, with my own keyboard, which does not have all of these strange keys, ı ş ç ö ğ ü € £ ½, in the way of my typing).

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