Originally uploaded by tink007.
I've been re-packing my suitcase today, getting ready for the flight to Glasgow on Monday and I've been thinking about the last 15 days spent sunning it up in Turkey.
I was looking forward the prospect of the tour, mostly for the opportunity to give someone else the responsibility of looking after me. I was sick of doing it, that's for sure. Travelling is fun, but forever being watchful of train schedules, luggage, local currency can give a girl a headache! And I know that AB felt exactly the same way. We needed a holiday from our holiday.
Our "Going Troppo in Turkey" tour with Topdeck was always going to be different to the sort of travelling we'd been doing before. For starters, we were going to be with more Aussies and Kiwis (given it was essentially an ANZAC tour). But another significant difference was the expectation that we follow someone else's itinerary for a change. And that was something that took a few days to sink in properly. We knew that we needed to be on the bus at certain times or we'd screw up that day's travelling. No room for sleep-ins, or returning to the hotel eary for an afternoon nap if the mood took us. We knew that we'd be sacrificing the good bits that come with independent travel by handing over our lives to the Top Deck people. But still we pressed on and rocked up in Istanbul with no expectations beyond that. And how richly we were rewarded.
Safe in the knowledge that someone else was taking care of me, my eyes drifted to the changing landscapes of Turkey. The country is just so beautiful. I was prepared for a culture shock, given that I am a western woman and I was travelling in a Muslim country. But I needn't have worried a bit.
The dress codes in the areas we visited demonstrated that Turkey is a relatively liberal country. Women walked the streets (rarely on their own), some wearing the chador, others not. We were not stared at as different, though we were mindful of dressing conservatively and not drawing attention to ourselves.
The food was a bit of a let-down though. I had shared AB's hopes that the Turkish food would resemble Greek cuisine, and maximise use of all the delectable herbs and spices that are so abundant in the markets. Alas this was not the case. And while I'm on the subject, if you're on the Atkins diet (or any diet for that matter), Turkey is NOT the place for you. Rice, bread, and potatoes are served with every main meal. Ugh. Fortunately we were doing a lot of walking to burn calories, but combine those carbs with the healthy (?) doses of Efes beer we consumed almost daily, and you can imagine why stomach upsets went through the bus like wildfire.
And I've eaten more kebabs in the past 15 days than I care to think about. It will be a long while before I head to the street vendors for another one of those, let me tell you.
The desserts in Turkey looked good, but somehow they just didn't "work" for me. Everything is drizzled in honey, and that just added to their appeal as far as I was concerned. But with the exception of some delicious pistachio baklava that I had on the first day in Istanbul, nothing else stacked up. Perhaps I set the bar too high too early in the trip?
But you couldn't really fault the weather in Turkey either. We enjoyed such beautiful sunshine, and it really only rained heavily when we were on the bus, which was good timing. Nights were cold, but that's no big deal for a girl with a cardigan, right? I got a tan on ANZAC Day too, which is a bloody good and patriotic effort.
Today in Paris has been 27 degrees celcius, and it's been a shame that we're still all feeling seedy and tired from last night's fiesta. I've been out to dispose of empty bottles and to buy lunch, and then it was straight back to the couch to nurse some Panadol and trashy magazines. C'est la vie!