Saturday, January 05, 2008


turkish breakfast
Originally uploaded by amsterboy
"Thank you so much. But where are the bridges exactly?"

A discussion with an Italian tourist in the cafe of Topkapi Palace earlier this week was a wake-up call. My holiday in Istanbul consisted of breakfasts, dinners and drinks with local friends. I stayed in the guest room of my friends far away from Sultanahmet's touristic buzz. The discussion with the tourist - smart woman approximately my age - reminded me of the great wonder of having friends all over Europe.

The girl had not left the Golden Horn during the four days she had already spent in Istanbul. I visited the Golden Horn every day but in the evenings returned to the Asian side. Her experience of the Turks was that they all wanted to sell her something, mine was from the amazing hospitality and kindness which seems to characterise people outside the tourist attractions.The locals we asked for help went out of their way to make sure that we make the right bus or find the right address. The mosque experience of the Italian tourist were the men selling souvenirs by the door, mine was an older gentleman proud to show us around his local mosque. Her most intimate discussion with a local was the receptionist of her hotel or a friendly waiter, mine were hour-long discussions over Turkish pop music or funeral traditions in my friends' living room in the middle of the night.

I am a people person. People define my mood and create the highs and lows. My Europe and European cities consist mostly from superb dinners, long breakfasts or cocktails with a view.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That is why I travel. To meet and to greet. -Maria