We arrived in Turkey a few days ago. Transitioning from Moroccan to Turkish life proved to be more difficult than one might think. Going from Rockingham County, Virginia to Istanbul, Turkey would have resulted in culture shock on its own. Throw in a side trip to Morocco in between and things just get all turned upside down.
Istanbul is a very large city. I have heard anywhere between 14 and 18 million people are living here, and according to Wikipedia, it is the 5th largest city in the world. Throw in a couple million tourists and random non-permanent people and it’s quite a busy place to be – absolutely nothing like the little towns, or even the big towns, we were seeing in Morocco, much less back home in Virginia.
If you know me, then you know that I tend to dislike, and usually outright hate, cities and urban areas, large crowds, and generally rude and pushy people. It’s just not my thing. Don’t get me wrong though- I LOVE seeing new places and experiencing new cultures, obviously or I wouldn’t even be on this trip. The thing about Istanbul though is that it’s comparable to being in New York because of its size and extremely westernized culture.
It’s been really awesome to be able to see a blend of the eastern and western hemispheres meeting in this one city, something I talked a little bit about in my last post, but we have been staying right in the heart of the tourism center of the city. Other than hearing the call to prayer a few times a day and running into the occasional problem of not being able to read Turkish, it feels like we are back in the states due to the heavily built-up, touristy feel.
The point of us staying in Istanbul was to be able to see some of the connections between east and west the further we go into our travels. Istanbul is the perfect place to do that, but in doing so, you miss out on a lot of the genuine Turkish culture and traditions that might be found in other parts of the country.
I’m glad I came to Turkey and got to see a lot of the amazing history that’s found in Istanbul, but I can say that this is the first time I have ever traveled somewhere without feeling the desire to return. I’ve been here, seen what there is to see, and I was ready to leave about three days ago. I think the country as a whole has a lot more to offer than just this city, and I would love to experience it, but Istanbul is one place I’m ready to move on from.