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.


Elephant's Child said...

My partner has visited Turkey several times and loves it. And, like you, he cannot speak highly enough of the friendliness of the Turkish people.
You have been missed here in the blogosphere and I am glad to hear you were away and enjoying yourself. And do understand your homesickness.
Heartfelt hugs.

Iris Flavia said...

It´s always good to have at least some friendly phrases in the country´s language, I agree.
My hubby´s parents went to Turkey in the 70´s and told stories like you do - friendly, helpful people.
10 years later they made a different, more unfriendly experience - glad to hear a good story again.
Can you explain the openness about Erdoğan? Are they "allowed" to speak freely?
:-) For a German "sláinte" sure is an important word!
I once had an Italian customer who lived in Ireland on the phone, oh, what a mess, language-wise!
What is it like for a German living in the US? I love American Football and "our" team is several times German and European Bowl defender, yet I have never been in the US and have heard many a scary story, too...
Guess I have to browse your blog a little for it...

My name is Erika. said...

wow- you have been a jet setter! :) I love seeing photos from exotic places (or not so exotic either) and these were fantastic. Hugs-Erika

Magic Love Crow said...

Wow, what an experience my friend! Lucky you! How amazing! How wonderful!! You've been missed! Was wondering where you were!! Big Hugs!

Karen Lakis said...

What a wonderful trip, full of beautiful, colorful images! I've never been to Turkey - it looks like a fascinating place to visit. I like the idea of its being a museum, and can only imagine all the history that it holds. Those of us who have lived our entire lives in America need to remind ourselves how young we really are as a country. I'm glad you had a wonderful time!

Cheri said...

Sounds like a wonderful trip!

Jeanie said...

I suspected you might be away. And boy -- that was AWAY! It looks fascinating. Apart from Japan, I've never been to Asia and this looks very intriguing. But nice to know you can find GUinness anywhere!