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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Turkey: Ahmet, Ismet and Mamet and of course, Ali

Turkey: Ahmet, Ismet, Mamet and Ali and a whole host of friendly people


As we fly through the air from Istanbul to Paris, at 35,000 ft., I am reflecting back on the last two weeks remarkable experiences in Turkey. How to best reflect the amazing experiences we have had, the many kind people we have met, both Turkish, and those from other lands who joined us on various excursions, the delicious foods we have consumed, the amazing historical sites we have visited and photographed to share with all of you at home. It is hard to encapsulate into one short partagraph or even essay but I will try my best.
First, I must say that the Turkish people have shown us nothing but hospitality and kindness and at times, extraordinary support in going out ot their way to help us. An example of the latter means I must incriminate myself but so be it. In my enthusiasm and excitement a few days ago after a day and a half at Dalyan on the Mediterranean coast, as we were preparing to leave, I did a stupid thing---I left my camera on the hook of a bathroom door, not even the women’s but men’s restroom, to make matters worse,downstairs from the lobby of a lovely hotel where we were staying. I did this as I was in haste wanting not to keep our driver, Ahmet, waiting. He was arriving momentarily to pick us up and drive us to Dalaman, just twenty minutes away to the bus depot where we were to board the bus for Antalia, our last stop on our Turkey journey. Well, unfortunately, I did not remember that I had left the camera until we were just getting ready to board the bus. Ahmet called the hotel and asked if they had found it--- .I can only imagine the chaos this created for them as they searched and had to report it was nowhere to be found. Ahmet looked so sad and I quickly assured him it was not his fault but mine and not to worry but I boarded the bus with a heavy heart as I thought about not only the value of the camera but, perhaps more important, the many photos I had taken and the memories they represented for me. Thankfully, Gary had taken photos with his camera, also, but we often take different photos respective of our own individual interests. Feeling a bit crestfallen, we settled in for the 5 hour bus trip to Altalia on th southern Turkish coast. Shortly into the trip, the young man on the luxry bus, who helps the driver, approached me with a cell phone and said I had a phone call. It was from Ahmet who was calling to say he had a call from the hotel: they had found my camera and were sending it by Taxi to Dalaman where Ahmet would retrieve it and then send it by “cargo express” to me in Antalia. My mother always said I was born under a lucky star and indeed, my life has proved that inumerable times. How thankful for Ahmet and the lovely people at the hotel.. I could not help but wonder if the same trouble would have been endured by us in helping a foreigner in our country. A good lesson.

Speaking of helpful people, we were next to meet Ismet, who met us at the bus station, carried our suitcase to his car and graciously extended a welcome, taking us to the travel agency which was arranging a tour for us the next day. It turned out that Ismet would be our guide and how good that was. His English was perfect, he was knowledgeable about the place we would be visiting and we immediately felt a kinship with him. Arriving at the agency in the old town section of Antalia near our hotel, we were delighted to meet the woman owner who greeted us warmly and assured us she had received a call from Ahmet, also and that my camera would be arriving by the next day. Ismet then dropped us off at the beautiful B & B where we had reservations. We entered from a narrow cobbled street through old wooden doors into a beautiful courtyard and a kind man greeted us and showed us to our room which was lovely, decorated with Turkish rug, a lovely sitting area and round brass tray table, windows that looked out into the streets below, a huge comforatable bed covered in a lovekly cover of silk brocade, and lit by hanging Turkish lamps on either side. Our bathroom, though small, was delightfully coverd in blue, white and red floral tiles with the tulip motif we saw everywhere in Turkey.We settled in quickly and went downstairs passing the lovely courtyard swimming pool right next to the steps of our room and deciding on a swim later. We were hungry and decided to eat right there as it was quiet and peaceful and the gentleman who had greeted us said we were welcome to have dinner there. We enjoyed the solitude as there was only one other family eating at the moment on the patio. We later learned that they were family friends of the owner’s son, the manager. They had two small boys and we were reminded of the time when we were traveling in Europe with Dawn and Tiffany, ages 3 and ½ and 5, so many years ago. Precious memories. The little boys were curious about us and we soon struck up a conversation with them with our limited Turkish. The father spoke a little English and made a point to get up from the table and come over to welcome us to Turkey. These kindnesses extended to us were not the extraordinary, but the usual throughout our two weeks in this land of bright sunshine, hot tea (chai) and extraordinary historical sites and natural beauty. in Turkey. One cannot but hope we would do the same for a traveling Muslim individual or family in our country.

Speaking of courtesies, we must add, as we have just finished imbibing red wine and eating a delicious 3 course meal on our flight, that Turkish Airlines is the best. We have flown Turkish Airlines from Istanbul to Cappadocia and now from Antalia to Istanbul and on to Paris. It receives our heartfelt endorsement.

Now, I must backtrack a bit to catch you up on our adventures since we left Pammukale to go southeast to the Mediterranean coast and the small seaside village of Dalyan, one of our favorite spots. We were only there for a day and a half but vowed to come back and bring our family and friends. The charm of Dalyan is its location at the intersection of the ocean and a beautiful big lake connected by a canal which one navigates by small covered boats back and forth from beach to lake. The small stone streets are filled with shops for tourists, good restaurants, small inns and boutique hotels and the small tiles roofed homes of the local residents who we expect are all employed in the tourist industry bringing happiness and joy to us lucky ones who can visit their beautiful spot on earth. Of course, the weather continued to be beautiful with 75-85 degree days.

Now we are in France and it is cold but we are warmed by the wonderful hospitality of our French friends in Auvergne in the center of France.  They live in a charming small village and it has been a great day renewing our friendship and catvhing up with one another.  There is much to tell but we will continue later.  In the mean time "au revoir" for now!