The first time is always the most memorable, unique. The first time I went to Turkey was for my Erasmus exchange program and that’s when I fell in love with this country. After 1 year I came back to see old friends so this was actually my third time here. As you can imagine, not that exciting and not as new as the first time but even though I’ve seen most of the places there was still a lot to explore. I call Turkey “the Gate of the East” as this is a place with half European, half Middle eastern vibes. Great introduction before Asian countries which are more, lets say… extreme. It was also the first month of travelling with Callum and for me, the most important. Having a good travelling partner is probably the most important thing that’s why for us it was a kind of test. Test of patience, cooperation, endurance and resistance to stress. And even if we had lots of arguments in the beginning, Turkey helped us to understand each other and learn how to work together. You may think that you start a World Trip with a big kick, enthusiasm and excitement. Haha, no. The first weeks we didn’t even feel we just started a trip which may last for years. With a time you get used to this thought and the fact that you can’t just come back to your comfortable life whenever you like. That’s the sacrifice you make in order to learn, explore & grow.
Although Turkey may seem “nothing special” for an average traveller due to many similarities with Europe this country never dissapoints me. Hitchhiking like always have been a piece of cake, besides meeting few crazy drivers who weren’t really attached to their lives. I’ve always said- if you’re homeless/have no money- come to Turkey. You will never starve here and the people will always help you.Turkish food is probably one of my favourite, lots of variety, delicious doners & desserts. Well, I would add some pork chops for a change but you can’t have everything. Most of the people are incredibly hospitable, generous and warm-hearted, trying to welcome you as best as they can. Men usually look at you like at a piece of meat but after some time you can get used to it. Thing that really bothers me is the repression of women and I know it’s silly expecting any change but I really miss female company while being in Turkey. Even girls that may seem open-minded treat you differently and you can really notice it.
The whole country has such a rich history, culture, beautiful handicrafts. But more than the history I definitely prefer the nature that’s why the south of Turkey is number 1 for me. Even though the East is very interesting and substitutes Iran a little for us (we couldn’t get there as Callum would have to book an expensive tour) many problems are going on there. Obviously Turkish-Kurdish conflict and the terrorists issue. Turkish talk at Kurdish and Kurdish at Turkish which is kind of annoying during the conversation. East is less developed and when I try to find the reason why only 1 thing comes to my mind- goverment. Why they don’t invest in the east- no idea. But because of all these things not many people speak English (even couchsurfers) which didn’t make our trip easier but definitely improved our sign language. What really makes me happy is a positive attitude towards the foreigners and a desire to grow as a nation, especially in education. We met many cool people on the way who made our stay much better experience than we expected. For me, personally, Turkey is the second home, with good friends, great food and most of all, good memories. To be continued.