The “European” part of my travels are over, well sort of, I am in Istanbul now and technically this part of Turkey is the European side.
So confusing. How do I even categorize this post? Europe, Asia, and Middle East? Is Turkey considered part of Middle East? I only ask this publicly because those are the questions I asked when I was visiting. I am not exactly a complete idiot so I figure there are other average people who don’t know this for sure as well. Turkey technically straddles both Europe and Asia but it is also considered part of the Middle East. That is the quick explanation in case you were wondering.
I have had Turkey on my travel list for a little while but for some reason I always ended up going elsewhere on trips.
I decided that this sabbatical was a perfect time to finally visit.
My start and ending is in Istanbul. For the first part of the stay I decided to stay in the sultanahmet part of town. It is where many of the tourist and historic areas are located. This part of the trip is 5 nights.
My first impressions is I find Istanbul challenging. I am not used to the male attention (yes I am dressed conservatively … at least initially but then when I realized men treated me the same no matter what I wore I started wearing shorts out for comfort to sight see … but not in mosques). Also vendors, and carpet salesmen in particular, are very pushy. I experienced pushiness in India but I never had a salesperson physically grab me and pull me into their store in India. This scenario happened in Istanbul.
What was also similar to India was the male attention. I had men catcall me, stare at my chest, and pretty much 80% of my waiters asked me on a date in some form or another. All I did was be nice and make small talk; nothing to invite the attention. It is a cultural shock since back home I get about zero male attention these days.
Despite the unwanted male advances, I did like my time sightseeing around town. Even though I sometimes wanted a late start, the days were better when I woke up early to go out sightseeing and then back to my hotel for an afternoon siesta. It is hot and a mid-day break in the AC is nice.
Also for people not familiar with cities that are predominately Islamic, you will hear the call to prayer multiple times a day (5 I think) and some are early in the morning. They can be pretty loud so don’t be startled when it happens.
My first meal in Turkey, some sort of lamb stew, and yes this waiter did ask me out.
I take it easy my first day and try to get my bearings in a the nearby area. I’ll post later about some of cool things I see.