Hey everyone I just thought I would share some of my favorite aspects of Turkey from my trip this summer. By far my favorite thing about Turkey is the Turkish people!
They have proven all of the stories I have heard about their incredible hospitality. They are easily the warmest and most kind people I have ever met. One of my most memorable moments was going to one of the local parks one afternoon. It was very interesting to see the amount of people that were out and having a family picnic, or just hanging out in the grass with friends, or taking their kids to run around on the jungle gyms. It was apparent that the Turks really love quality time with each other outdoors. They seem to enjoy the small things a lot more than we do in America. I have never seen that many people having picnics and relaxing at parks in the US. Especially on such a regular basis for community and friendship. They were all just having a blast. Enjoying a nice evening with the people they love, in the shade of a nice tree.
What added even more to the experience was standing outside a snack stand and a younger Turkish man noticed I was foreign and just decided to come over and welcome me to Turkey and have a fun conversation. He just wanted to share some of his Turkish culture and ask me about what it was like in America. He shyly practiced his English with me and we had a great time teaching each other about our homes. It was very refreshing that someone cared enough to come say hello to a stranger and get to know them just to share a little life. Directly after that I met a group of middle aged men sitting in the grass. They offered me countless and delicious snacks that they made from home. I literally could not refuse all the treats they would share with me. They would give me a few, we would talk awhile and they would offer more 3 minutes later. They really enjoyed blessing me and having me stay to chat. It was so special to me that I was able to feel like I was a part of the community and enjoy the evening with everyone. It was a wonderful experience to enjoy a quiet snack in the grass and share in the simple things with the Turks.
They cared a lot about what I thought about the culture and people. Many of the Turks wanted to make sure we were treated kindly by everyone while we were here and took great pride that I thought they were such warm people. I was probably asked 20 times or more, what I think about the Turkish people, while on this trip. There was not one time that I had anything to complain about.
Another special aspect I experienced about the Turks is they are always ready to get a Turkish Black Tea with you. And when I say always, I mean it. It does not matter if it is late, or if they are busy, or even if they are working. A few times we would meet a nice shop owner and they would just pull some chairs and Tea out of nowhere and you would be sitting down enjoying a nice chat in the middle of their store for the next hour or two. It was incredible the way they cherish relationships and would sacrifice any amount of time to spend growing relationships with you. I was so impressed by how giving they were with their time and eager they were to have you stay for just one more tea.
On top of that the Turks really love to laugh. It may not seem like it at first but the second you get into a conversation you will realize they love to make jokes and always wear a smile when they talk with you. Even when we can hardly speak to each other the Turks find a way to give a smile and a laugh. They also love to show you how to have an enjoyable time and get the most out of your time in Turkey. They have such a rich culture and land, they are very excited to help you experience all of it. We had a lot of friends take us around their city and show us all the best parts of the town. They took us on lots of unique experiences like a classic Turkish breakfast but on a beautiful spot on a mountain that had a great view over the Euphrates river.
One very fun cultural experience was two of our friends showing us some classical Turkish music. One of them played the saz instrument while the other sang a very deep and powerful song with some incredible pitch changes. Shortly after they showed us how to do a dance popular at Turkish weddings. Even the man sitting next to me on the plane made sure I had a list of 10 things to do when we landed and all the best things to do while I was here.
It made the trip so much more enjoyable that they had so much to share. We were able to experience much more than we ever would have if they weren't so excited to help us experience the culture and the land they dearly love. It was all the small things we experienced from the locals that really made our trip memorable and real. Without their unique hospitality those gem moments would have never happened.
Lastly, what is good hospitality without an invitation to your home. We were gifted with multiple opportunities to visit and eat at Turkish homes. They are always so eager for an opportunity to take you to their home and pour you a tea or make you a meal. They really make an effort to make you feel at home wherever you are. They truly are a giving and selfless people. The Turks are my favorite part of Turkey because the beauty of Turkey cannot be truly experienced without the beauty of its people.
Until the next adventure,