I LOVE this question! But I can’t answer with only one thing!
I’ve been on a long journey that started the beginning of February 2019 and spanned many countries and cities: Dallas, Tx. Paris, Fr. New Delhi, Agra, & Goa, India, (Istanbul, Turkey for 2 nights) Jerusalem and Tel Avi, Israel, and finally Bangkok, Krabi, Thailand.
But let me go back to last year when I said jokingly: “I could live out a suitcase!” And that’s a big thing to say when you are 72!
I decided to take myself seriously and after decades of working full time, I liquidated my life, put my photos and important papers into one suitcase, grabbed my knapsack with my computer and my iPhone X and took off! Turkey was not on my list when I planned this amazing voyage. But, I planned all this through a company that specialized in long trips (mine was over 4 months) and Chris said, “Lynda, layovers are free. Stop in Istanbul.” He and Istanbul changed my life.
Why do I LOVE Turkey and what shocked and surprised me? First. two days were not enough. So I came back to Istanbul after Thailand loved it so much I recently applied for a long term visa!
YES, I was shocked in an amazing way, with Turkey. Let me share the reasons why:
- The #1 Country for the Sexiest Men in the World is Turkey Yes, it’s true. Just walk through Sultanahmet Square where the Blue Mosque is and you will see what I mean!
- I LOVE the call to prayer. Do you know that there are over 81K mosques in Turkey? Over 3100 are in Istanbul. I was brought up Catholic and spent a year in the convent. But I don’t truly identify with any organized religion. The call to prayer happens through loudspeakers at every mosque, 5 times a day. I find it soothing and very special.
- Islam. Turkey is a Muslim European country. Of the 17 million people of this thoroughly modern and gorgeous city, 96.4% practice Islam. And from what I’ve learned since I arrived here, the religion is not anything like what we learn and hear about in the West.
- The people are genuinely kind. I’ve never experienced any violence whatsoever—not that it doesn’t happen, I’m sure—but I walk the streets at night, take the trams, wander endlessly, come home from dining through the city, walking down the hills from Taksim, and never once have I ‘felt’ unsafe. Btw, it helps to have a built-in-danger alarm.
- And if all of these things alone didn’t surprise me, I must say the language drives me nuts!! Hah, I walk around with google translate, although most people involved in tourism speak English. I feel so stupid. I can’t wrap my tongue around the words. I can’t relate them to anything—I have some French, Spanish, and of course English. I can even understand some Italian! But Turkish, even though I watch Netflix Turkish cop shows, I still don’t get it!
- Food! Don’t get me started! If you haven’t tried Turkish Ice Cream—it’s so creamy—you have not lived!The food is so good and so plentiful. And do try the varieties of baklava, and chocolate, and Turkish Delights!
- The night. Istanbul never sleeps. You can find restaurants open at 2 a.m all over the city!
My “shocks” have all been positive—except the damn language!! haha.
Lynda Filler is the author of 15 published books on Amazon. Award-winning Target in the Sun is .99c today.