Turkey like you’ve never seen it before

It’s well known that everyone may hear about Turkey. Who doesn’t know it!? But I am here because I would like you to see this country through my eyes, from a different perspective and share the emotions that I got thanks to this unforgettable trip to Turkey.

All started when, me and a friend of mine, who lives in Italy, decided to visit a country, that was cheap and near Tunisia and Italy. Our idea of travel, wasn’t about having the best comfort in the best hotels, on the contrary, was the chance to break out of our comfort zone, adapting to the most improbable situations. We were so excited and ready for this new adventure!

We decided, at first, to move by hitch-hiking because we had a limited budget. But as the group has increased (a Turkish boy and a Tunisian girl joined us), we decided to rent a car that wasn’t so expensive since we were four people. (if you choose the transportation, it will also be cheap and a great idea).

The first thing that I perceived when we arrived to Istanbul, was the colorful view of the streets and the harmonious sound of the mosques, that made us feel at home, as it was so touching. People seemed so different from each other, a population full of different shades and despite this, they coexist peacefully. An Egyptian boy, that we contacted by Couchsurfing, came to pick up us from the airport and got us touring the city. He offered us tea and showed us many places, that maybe impossible to be seen in a day! (thus my advice is, if you really want to know a country well, you have to place yourself in local people hands)

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What I’ve learned the first day? That Turkish people drink tea every moment of the day, but as I am used to drink a stronger tea in Tunisia and my Italian friend is loyal to her origins, we drank coffee, coffee and coffee! 😀

We spent the first night in Istanbul. Couchsurfing was our salvation, or better, Fatima, a middle-aged woman, was our rescuing angel, she opened her home to us and she offered us a traditional turkey soup and homemade olive. Was all delicious! She has a fridge full of magnets, that visitors from all over the world gave to her. She was so kind, she accompanied us as far as metro station after she made sure that we had a good breakfast with her in the morning.

Then, the second day, we started our tour: the idea was discovering turkey from the south to the north, to see all the different shades of this country. The first stage was Izmir, where a group of students opened their home to us. What we’ve noticed first, was the big poster of Ataturk on the wall, they seemed inspired by him. We had a big traditional informal dinner: we were all sitting on the floor around the
table and we chatted about all like we’ve know each other. We chose Izmir because we heard about an amazing mountain and Karagol lake heartshaped. But this first stop-over was our ruin. How to start a good trip? Don’t ask us! We brought a drone to make some videos, but as we are lucky people, when we started to make it fly, few minutes after, a wind started and we lost the control.

And that’s how we passed two days in the mountain searching the drone in vain. A positive thing of this stage? You will be surprised, but yes, the camping was the top
and my mum’s food too, for those who know: Mar9et loubia! The sky was magnificent, full of stars and it rained until the early hours of the morning;
was so relaxing after a long day!

Then we moved to Pammukale, the landscape was stunning and changing in color: a
true spectacle of nature, with natural rock pools, formed through the centuries from the buildup of water high in calcium carbonate, which flows from a thermal spring.
(Japanese tourists were everywhere!) Then we moved to Antalya, where we visited three waterfalls in a day! They were amazing! But to be honest, what I remember more about that day, was the place where we ate; wasn’t a 5 stars restaurant or something like that, but more like a simple popular place where a woman and her husband work with humility and enthusiasm. They welcomed us offering tea and Gozleme. We felt like we were home. Then we moved to Cappadocia. That was the most gratifying trip: we drove the whole night to witness the sunset and trust me, the view was breathtaking.

At 7 am there were hot-hair balloons everywhere in the golden sky.
I won’t to go into detail, because I think every person that visited it would describe it
in different ways, then it’s better to see it with your own eyes. After we moved to Trabzon, our last stage. Was about 9 hours driving, we enjoy the trip, because it was a reckless driving through the mountains and in the middle of the highway we stopped for an unplanned camping near a river and we cooked “pasta al pesto”, an Italian meal. The first thing that you notice when you arrive to Trabzon, is that any place you are looking for, local people will tell you that you will find it in “MEYDAN”, which is the centre of the city and that was so disorienting for us!

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A part from this Trabzon was one of my favorite places, for “çal mağarası” cave, his
snow-covered mountains and the breathtaking sunset that you can contemplate from the top of the mountain. The last two days, we came back to Istanbul, where I discovered more the nightlife of this city, that is so mixed and full of original clubs, people seemed too calm and polite. We stayed for a night in a cheap hostel where we enjoy the time dancing Turkish dance with other guests of different nationalities.
And we spent the second night hosted by a Turkish man called Osman, who led us to
discover many hidden places in Istanbul. But the best moment was when he played for us the violin. It was very touching!

The only flaw in this trip was the language, we were so prepared to showcase our “perfect” English accent, but unfortunately was so rare to find someone that speaks English, then we give up and we used gestures, but sometimes we seemed to understand them talking Turkish. Don’t ask me how! But was so funny and weird!

I think that Turkey is a country full of surprises, but I’m not talking only about places, maybe more about how people’s kindness surprised us and we are very grateful for all the people that we had met in our way and for Couchsurfing experience!

About the author: Omar Mansour

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