Thursday, July 19, 2018
A Different World
Some of you may have noticed that I haven't visited you in some time. I didn't post much either - in fact, the last post was a scheduled post that I wrote some time back in June.
The Geek, Kaefer and I spent three wonderful weeks in Europe and Asia. At the beginning of the year we received the invitation to the wedding of the Geek's cousin - I wrote about him and his then-girlfriend in this post. The two had decided to tie the knot and since his bride is Turkish and they both live in Istanbul the wedding took place in Istanbul. A wonderful reason for us to spend a week in this fascinating city and another week further East in Turkey on the Asian continent.
Even though I grew up with Turkish friends - Germany has a large population of Turks - I had never been to Turkey before and I was excited to finally go to this country. Weeks before our flight I learned some basic words in Turkish. I wanted to be able to say "thank you" (teşekkürler) and "good morning" (günaydin) because I know how many doors are opened when you make the effort to just speak a few words in a country's language. My favorite word is "görüşürüz" (see you). While in Istanbul many people speak German or English, further inland a knowledge of either these languages becomes rather rare.
After one week in Istanbul we rented a car to drive across the Bosporus and into Asia where most of the country is located. I was a bit nervous about this trip, but there was absolutely no need. Turkey is a country with an extremely friendly and also generous population. On top of that we felt very safe wherever we went.
We traveled a country that calls itself the "largest museum of the world" - everything here has a very long history and everywhere there are ancient sites and buildings. There is a lot of tradition, at the same time this is a modern country. The muezzin calls to prayer several times a day and covered women talk on their cell phones. Over and over again it was the people who really amazed me, their friendliness, their humor, their openness about Erdoğan (we arrived two days after the election) and their wish just to communicate with us.
I didn't really want to leave after two weeks, but there was another country we had planned to visit.
In that country this language is spoken:
The only word I know in this language is "sláinte" - a very useful word, though.
You need it when you drink this:
Thankfully they also speak (sort of) English in Ireland even though Irish is the national and first official language. All the signs are both in Irish and English and sometimes with no English translation at all...
Other than their British neighbor Ireland is a proud member of the EU, their currency is the Euro and they are very pro-European. They are also very proud of their own country and their traditions, and the battle for their independence from Britain is still very present in the people's mind. Oh the people - they, too, are so friendly. Everybody is ready to help you and they are great story tellers. They are immensely proud of their long history, and at the same time this is a very modern country.
Plus, they have Turkish barbers...
We spent a week in Ireland touring the country - everything is so close by - and we loved it. But the highlight of our trip definitely was the time spent in Turkey.
It was a different world. When it was time to leave I said goodbye with a very heavy heart. Arriving back in the US felt like landing on a foreign planet. I've always known that I'm a European at heart and always will be - you really can't just shed 40 years of living there - but now I also painfully miss my old continent.