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We will send regular newsletters to our members who have signed up for receiving it during the registration. In 'mymerhaba' newsletter, our editorial staff provides updates, with regard to any information related to places worth visiting, viewing, or otherwise worth knowing, for those who care to know more....

Turkish Delight

Photos: WOW Turkey
By Aisha Thornton

Hospitality, friendships and unlimited smiles are just some of the things that are found in Turkey.

"Hangi memleket?" (Which country are you from?), the cyber cafe owner asked me. "Pakistan," I said and immediately had an enthusiastic "Pakistan dost" fired back at me. I was standing in a queue at a cyber cafe in Izmit, Turkey, to pay and was not expecting such a response as Pakistanis are not given a lot of respect abroad. At a restaurant I was given free food when I told them that I was a Pakistani. A bus driver and a telephone shop man would not take any money from me because I was a Pakistani. Nowhere in the world are Pakistanis liked as much as they are in Turkey.

Izmit is as beautiful a city as its people. An industrial city built on the top of a mountain ending at the edge of the Marmara Sea; the city offers breathtaking views of a beautiful valley stretching to finish at the seashore sprinkled with boats. I was reminded of Pakistan's own Northern Areas. The marina is a splendid wooden walkway graduating into a more cemented one, which in spring is full of fathers and sons, uncles and nephews, with cans of worms and fishing lines trying to snare as many small fishes as they can. Besides the wooden walkways, there are anchored houseboat restaurants where one can have a decent meal and a drink to the soft bobbing of the boat. Anchored close to the main marina is also a big battle ship used by the Turks during World War I. The ship has been turned into a restaurant and has a very comfortable interior where people can either choose to relax on comfortable sofas or sit at more intimate chairs and tables. One can also walk around the ship and look at the machinery and weaponry used at that time.

Summer in Izmit brings out the carnival at the Fuar (fair) near the marina which has many exciting things like the Turkish theatre, the many bars and dance clubs and karaoke bars or go on the many heart stopping rides at the carnival. The fair also has baby shows, exciting puppet shows and other activities for children.

In Izmit an umbrella and a hand towel are must, for it can get extremely humid in the city and it can start pouring with any prior indication of doing so. The city is famous for its cotton candy called pismaniye, which is one of the most delicious sweets one can ever have.

Our next stop was Istanbul. Here too the city's unbearable humidity can melt a visitor into a pool of sweat if caught on the disconcerting traffic jams on the Bosphorus Bridge, while riding a public dolmus (minivan). The city is full of history. Originally known as Constantinople, named after Constantine the first Christian Roman Emperor, the city is proud to have Christianity's very first church called Haghia Sophia (Ayasofya) that Constantine built.

Other tourist attractions include the breathtaking Sultanahmet Mosque (also known as the Blue Mosque because of its beautiful blue, green and white tiles). Built in 1609 by Sultan Ahmet, the mosque is the only one in Istanbul that has six minarets. The Sultanahmet Mosque has a glorious chandelier inside and a beautiful glasswork on its windows. The remarkable Topkapi Palace (which means Cannon Gate) was built from 1465 to 1478 for Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror. It is lavishly decorated, in particular the harem area, and now operates as a museum. All these attractions are found in the tourist area of Sultanahmet. This area is also famous for its belly dancers and the many hamam's where one must go for a relaxing massage and a warm bath.

There is also the underground Basilica Cistern-Yerebatan (also known as the Sunken Palace) that was constructed by Justinian in 532 to supply the Byzantine Palace primarily. It fell out of use following the Turkish conquest and is the largest of all Istanbul's ancient cisterns. The cistern was restored in 1980's and today walkways have been constructed right through the cistern and illumination lends the place a suitably mysterious atmosphere. With soft music playing in the dimly lit walkway, one can imagine water rushing through the sturdy walls. Bending over the fence I could see fishes floating in the water. My husband's friend who had graciously accepted to show me around the place said that concerts and theatre plays are performed in the place. The cistern also houses one of the two heads of the statue of Medusa, lying upside down with one of the pillars balanced on it. Watching the head made me think of the story and watch in wonder how nature has preserved the head from such ancient times as the 5BC.

Istanbul also has the exciting ferries. They take passengers from the European side to the Asian side and back. One has to buy a ticket and is given a coin to put into a machine to open the gates towards the pier, where people stand against the harbor to quickly run across to catch the best seats or you are left standing for the length of your ride. Sitting on the outside of the ferry near the edge, reading a book and sipping on Turkish tea, the sea rippling through your hair is next to heaven. The trains and trams in Turkey are something to contend with. One has to dash to catch the train before the doors close, but while waiting there are many vending machines with delectable snacks.

Taksim Square is the center of Istanbul and a great place to hang out with friends at bars. It is a popular haunt of the youth and one can see couples walking hand-in-hand or with arms around each other at the beginning of spring. The square itself has benches and places to sit where people can relax, feed pigeons or simply take a nap in the sun. Most foreign consulates are situated in this area. The Turkish version of the saying: jina dey Lahore naheen weykhia undi jameyai naheen," can be applied to Taksim. A ride on the tram running in the center of the Taksim Road is a must.

Turkish food is among the most delicious I have ever had and I prefer it more as I am not very fond of spices. Most things are cooked in the very healthy olive oil. Food like lahmacun (baked flat roti with mincemeat on it, eaten rolled up with salad put in between), gozleme (cheese, potato or meat stuffed inside a rather greasy and fat roti), pide (could pass off as a Turkish pizza) and lemon drenched clams, still make my mouth water. Turkish sweets like the baklava are so drenched in sheera that our gulab jamuns would pale in comparison. However, Turkish pastries and cakes are the most delectable confectionery I have ever tasted. However, Turkish coffee, which is extremely bitter, did not quite appeal to my taste buds.

Turks in general are very considerate and hospitable people. They are also one of the most courteous ever. On public buses I saw people getting up to let an elderly person sit. When I would go out carrying my son in his carrycot, people would give me a seat. In fact a bus driver even once stopped the bus, got off and helped me carry the cot down and assisted me to get off the bus! People stand in queues and wait their turn at supermarkets. Bus drivers stop at assigned stops and are very considerate of their passengers getting off.

In Izmit, I would be walking home alone at 02.00 a.m., carrying my son all alone and never feel unsafe. While coming back, my husband and I had a good long walk from the apartment to the bus stand to go to Istanbul airport. A tractor driver stopped to pick up my suitcase and take it to the bus stand and a husband and wife with their daughter walking by wheeled the huge bag that I was dragging behind me.

In short, Turkey is a beautiful and very welcoming land, the only stick in the mud being their taxi drivers who will take you on a wild goose chase if you do not know your way around the city and then name an exorbitant amount of money and people who offer to carry your heavy suitcases and once they do so, quote a price that would leave your ears ringing. A piece of advice: If you are poor at mathematics, it is always wise to memorize the colors of the many billion and million notes that constituent the Turkish lira, or else you would be lost in the many zeroes of the currency as I was.




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Reiki
Remmick's Watch Repairer
Smiley's Blacksea
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The Three Graces
The Warm Heart of a Megapolis
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Vacation in Fethiye
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Latest comments about this article

 By Tosun Saral  17.6.2005

Dear Ayşe, It was Indian Moslems with their leader merhum the late Cinnah who supported Mustafa Kemal during the War of Indepandence in the years 1919-22. Poor people of moslem India suffering under British rule collected money, medicine and a group of medicine men and sended to aid Mustafa Kemal. How can we forget that geneorusity of Pakistani the Indian Moslems? Mustafa Kemal, after the war established a Turkish bank with that money, The Türkiye İş Bankasi A.Ş. Is Bankasi has the shares and prayers of all Indian Moslems in ıts capital. How can we forget? Pakistan is the only ally of Turkey supporting on all world conflicts. How can we forget? I think the people done a little for you againts your peoples geneorusity. With My best wishes Tosun Saral from Ankara

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From Members' Pen
A Weekend Escape to Edirne
Siirt in Istanbul
Lemon Cheesecake
A Bus Tour to Antakya
A Food Trip to Antakya
A Jazz Night in Ankara
A Visit to Aya Yorgi and Heybeliada
Afternoon at Camlica
Ah Istanbul!
Alanya Properties
Angelique's Ankara
Angelique´s Latest Trips
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Cheap Shopping in Istanbul
Çiçekli Bahçe Motel
Defining Feng Shui
Dinner at Ortaköy
Driving to Fethiye from England
Flying Broom by Sara
How to Maximize Your Rental Potential
Golf in Bodrum and More
Gümüşlük - Bodrum
Gündogan - Bodrum
Kathy's Thomas
Letter from Istanbul
Living in Çıralı
Moments from the Summer
Ms. Who's Apollon Temple
Mystery Solved
Pastoral Life in Yaniklar Village
Reiki
Remmick's Watch Repairer
Smiley's Blacksea
The Blue City of Ms. Who
The Pomegranate - A Gift from Heaven
The Three Graces
The Warm Heart of a Megapolis
Thousand Years of Culture
Turkish Delight
Vacation in Fethiye
Your Property in Turkey not Selling

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