a second helping of turkey is always welcome — whether it be the poultry (or tofurkey) on thanksgiving day or the country just south of ukraine i visited a year ago. i wouldn’t turn down either. so despite the fact that my last fall break from school was spent in istanbul, i really didn’t ‘mind’ going again.
this time around wouldn’t simply be a visit to the city that was once constantinople. my three close pcv friends (that haven’t traveled to turkey) and i planned to venture to the southern coastal town of kaş, head inland to the geological wonder called the ‘cotton castle’ in pamukkale, and end with a few days in beloved istanbul.
something like this:
we had a lot of area to cover in a short seven day trip. since turkey’s train services has been discontinued, buses were our means of point a to point b. which, living in big ol ukraine, we’re used to long bus rides. so despite the what seemed like endless hours sitting on our butts (there’s a grand tally at the end of this post), the rides weren’t that bad. the views were incredible and it gave us a view of ‘real’ turkey. plus these buses weren’t from the soviet era and actually had ‘bus assistants’ that walked the aisles to give you water and rose scented hand sanitizer. if felt like we were traveling in luxury.
the entire trip felt luxurious. from the moment we flew into antalya the views were already stunning and a far far cry better than where i live in ukraine. we took off our cold weather shoes and jackets at the airport, put on our flip flops, and had to quickly readjust to the friendliness of strangers.
we felt so lucky to be in such a beautiful country of friendly people, delicious food, warm weather, and scenery prettier than a postcard. on top of that to be in the company of good friends, comfortable modern transportation, toilet stalls with toiletpaper, comfortable beds, and hot showers (i was looking forward to this most, it’s funny how i now think of daily showering as luxurious). if i had a dollar for every time we said ‘we are so lucky to be here!’ i’d probably double my living allowance in no time. we certainly felt spoiled. and not so secretly wished peace corps could have placed us there instead (if only!).
i didn’t want to leave turkey. at. all. i don’t think any of us did. i felt this way the first time but this time it was even more so. i didn’t want to leave the stunning landscape, delicious feta, friendly good humored people, the lack of publicly passed out drunks, a culture of proficiency and customer service ukraine would never understand, and last but certainly not least the fine looking MEN.
ukraine is…not known for their beautiful men. women yes, but men, not so much…unless smoking, drinking, and aging quickly is your thing. turkey on the other hand had a rate of male hotness that was pretty favorable. so we certainly didn’t mind their flirting and compliments. the comments from shop, restaurant, and bus owners always made us laugh.
the best one came from a bus conductor who pointing to our group said we are all very beautiful and then to me saying with such certainty ‘YOU are the PERFECT woman’. i couldn’t help but laugh. especially when he seemed to change his mind after he asked me what astrological sign i was. i don’t blame him, if horoscope magazine reading has taught me anything it’s that no one wants to be involved with an aries.
as vain as it may sound, the flirting and the compliments were much appreciated…now that i typed it out it does sound pretty vain…but it was so nice to feel young and alive. not that i’m not young and in fact alive, but in ukraine men mostly don’t even look at me (not that i’d really want them to) and if often feels as if i’m some sort of invisible frumpy nun. which i very well might be compared to how ukrainian women mostly dress.
living in a not-much-to-do village with no ukrainian friends my own age, my old lady hobbies, a bed time of 9:30 cause there’s literally nothing else to do often confuses me to whether i’m 25 or actually 65. the line is kind of fuzzy. but with my girlfriends in the beautiful country of turkey, i was fairly certain i knocked off 40 years and felt vibrantly alive in my mid twenties again. even if it was only for 7 days. it was glorious.
(you can see even more photos on my flickr)
·························································· kaş, turkey ··························································
a quaint city nestled at the foot hills of mountains hugging the mediterranean sea. where it’s not certain if you’re in turkey or greece, tourists don’t outnumber the locals, secret swimming coves with the bluest water, and somewhere i’d definitely go again.
····················································· pamukkale, turkey ·····················································
with the captivating landscape panorama from the top of the geological wonder ‘cotton cloud’, it’s no wonder the romans made this a destination spa resort.
························································ istanbul, turkey ························································
second time around, istanbul didn’t disappoint. the city of old and new has just as much charm and character as the street side vendors that promise magic carpets and calorie free turkish delight.
after all was said and done with turkey, i headed with megan to a volunteer ‘halloween’ party gathering in kryvry rog. it was so great to see my friends but made for a lot more traveling and many more hours sitting on bus. at least all that bus time helped me get caught up on my scarf knitting, podcast listening, and nerdy number tallying.
in total over the eleven days that i traveled:
plane: 2.5 + 2 = 4.5 hours
train: 7 + 4 = 11 hours
bus: 3 + 2.5 + 6.5 + .45 + 11 + .45 + 3 + 4 + 3 = 34 hours
total spent traveling: 49.5 hours
total-ish traveled: 2,681 miles