I wasn’t planning to, but it happened. I fell in love with Istanbul and I must say, it feels awesome, too!:))
Istanbul is a charm in itself, a place that makes you wonder, a place that makes you want to discover it… You just want to, you can`t resist it.
I`ve been wanting to go to Turkey for a while now, and since this month was my bday too, I said to myself that I could link these two:))
What I first noticed when I got there was the relaxed attitude that people had. I was stunned to see this! Even though a very big city (around 17 million people live there, and Romania, after recent statistics, has 19 million. So Istanbul counts nearly the same population as my country), somehow people here don’t get affected by this immensity and modern life style that Istanbul has. It`s very interesting! There are millions of cars in Istanbul, millions of people, buses, trams, and even more noise from all this traffic. In spite of all this, people are very relaxed, are very laid back and they are smart enough to still find ways to enjoy life, regardless of the circumstances around them. Incredible!
I could make here an analogy, about the desert and the peace that an oasis has. Istanbul is the desert where it`s all windy, a desert where sand storms happen too. Now imagine the oasis in the middle of the desert: serenity, harmony, peace. This is what Turkish people transmitted me when I first saw them: they are like the oasis in the desert. Even though the modern pace and business (the wind and the sand storm I used earlier) push them to keep up with life, they are calm, they smile a lot, they sing and dance, they are at peace. And God! they are so friendly! They are so very friendly!
Turkish people make you remind yourself about the simplicity of life, about how good it feels to appreciate what you have; they remind you that life is a gift, that life is joy, and that life must be celebrated and cherished, no matter what you have or don’t have, no matter what you do or don’t do. Turkish people teach you about how happy you can be if you keep your life simple. I was amazed to see all this in the eyes of the Turkish people I met and talked to. Turkish people don’t need much to be happy, to smile or be joyful – this much is clear.
There is this ancient wisdom and knowledge that surround Turkey and it draws me to it like a magnet. It is a deep wisdom that energizes the spirit of this country and the souls of all those who live in it. I guess this is why they don’t pay much attention to material things because they know that their wealth comes from someplace else: their wealth comes from the legacy that their forefathers left them. It`s a legacy passed on from generation to generation and most importantly, it`s a legacy that resides in their hearts. Every Turkish person has this legacy in his/her heart, and it`s what makes them proud, it`s what makes them stand tall and protect what belongs to them. Hats off to you, Turkey!
Another thing that I noticed about this country is that it`s not in any rush to embrace globalization. Unlike other countries (Romania included), Turkey didn’t embrace the modern trends that shower upon our world nowadays. Turkish people are true to their culture, they are true to their national identity and they are not willing to give up on it. They are against the current and this is so inspiring, so empowering and I must say, it`s one of the things I love most about Turkey. Turkish people didn’t rush in exchanging their mother tongue – Turkish – with English. It takes courage and boldness – and most of all, a deep and true love for one`s country and nationality- to do this.
Everybody nowadays hurries to learn English, giving up on their native language. Well, I need to tell you, folks, that speaking English doesn’t grant one immortality. I can go further and say that one of the disadvantages of using this language is that it pushes you away from your roots, forcing you to adopt things(words, expressions, ways of thinking and feeling) that aren’t yours, and it`s something I am personally experiencing, too.
Now I`m not saying that learning English is something wrong, of course it`s not wrong. What I am saying is that Turkey, somehow, was able to find this balance between new and old, between modern and ancient, between national and international. This is very admirable for a country that has faced so many fights, battles and changes along the course of the centuries.
Seeing all this in the Turkish heritage makes me proud that my ancestors shared a past with the Turkish people. In the old days, there were many fights, wars and attempts of conquest coming from the Ottoman Empire and even though these two nations fought against each other, beautiful things happened too, such as marriages between Turkish men and Romanian women. I guess love doesn’t know any boundaries, does it?:P
Next thing I want to talk about is culture. I noticed that Turkey doesn’t say no to anything when it comes to it, when it comes to preserving the old buildings and artifacts that it has. And on good reason, too, because Turkish people are smart enough to know that if they don’t respect and take care of their historical legacy, then they will lose the spiritual bond with their ancestors; they`ll lose the connection with the true essence of who they are as people, as a nation.
For instance, Sultan Ahmed Mosque (also known as the Blue Mosque) is a pure ancient gem. If you see it, in spite of the age of 400 years that it has, you understand that culture is a priority for the government and that it invests ceaseless efforts to preserve these national symbols. Of course that, by doing so, other interests are being served, too, such as political, economic and touristic interests but who cares about this as long as these historical treasures are protected and well looked after?:))
Hagia Sophia, Topkapı Palace, Süleymaniye Mosque, Grand Bazar, Sakıp Sabancı Museum – you better visit these places, you`ll like them for sure!:))
If we talk about Turkey, then we have to talk about food, too. My God!, these people know how to eat!!:)) I`ve spent there 6 days and to my own astonishment, I put on weight. Yes, 2 pounds 😀
But no harm done, or as Turkish people say: “Problem yok!”, as with the daily walks that I have, I will be able to lose these pounds in a very short while) I really did my best to stay away from gaining weight but somehow forgot about it when I saw just how tasty and delicious the Turkish food is:)) Trust me, you`ll want to eat Turkish food, it`s simply too good!
Make sure you check out these three places that won me as their lifetime client: Backhaus, Simit Saray and Olympiat 2 Minas. They are amazing!! Also, check out on the malls that Istanbul has, The Mall of Istanbul and Uistynie Mall. You won’t be disappointed if you love shopping) The seaside overlooking Bosphorus is breathing taking. Have your meal there, you`ll thank me later, I assure you)
And since we`re at the seaside subject, you may want to visit the Kiz Kulesi, or the Maiden`s Tower. There`s a beautiful legend that goes around this tower and after you see it, you can go up to the top floor and have a nice tea or coffee. Seeing how the sea surrounds you makes your drink taste better, for realJ)
As I`m getting close to end this article, I can only say that I loved my time in Turkey, and am so happy that I went there. It`s a beautiful country to visit and live in, too, as there`s this invisible veil of harmony that covers it. It is something everybody can feel if they look closely. Turkish people know how to live life; they know how to make the most of it in spite of the obstacles and struggles. They know how to enjoy themselves because singing and dancing flow through their veins. Good for you, beautiful Turkish nation! If more people would visit you, from all over the world, they would have the chance to see what true living is about and how one can always choose to see the full side of the glass, just like you do. You have my respect, my love and appreciation. Make sure you never change.