The idea for this edition’s article was born on an intercity coach– on a very comfortable 2 + 1 seat coach as a matter of fact – whisking me onwards to the Turkish capital Ankara last Sunday.

You may of course know the splendid mountain ridge which separates the Kusadasi part from the Soke part of the same peninsula – and admiring it from a distance there and then a topic crossed my writer’s mind as if the mountains emanated some mystical literary inspiration. Or did I see some imagined little dollar, euro or lira signs, respectively, floating around the hilltops? Or alternatively, could it be that I had had spent too much time under the sun that very afternoon and could no longer differentiate fact from fiction?

Not really… having returned from Europe after staying put forsome months away from Turkey I asked myself a rather serious question: beauty aside, wonderful peoples aside, fantastic nation aside: does it make sense to holiday, move to Turkey if taking day-to-day expenditures into account? Are there perhaps any similarly breathtakingly beautiful countries lurking in the summer shades someplace along the traveler’s way by means oftop flight competitors? And how would I rate the other parts of Europe I had just visited on an extended stay?

Do not get me wrong: I never ever tried to compare a European destination with let us say an Asian locale. You can only compare markets and related price tags in one geographical zone. We may say ‘Cook Islands, affordable’ and perhaps ‘Tahiti – rather more expensive’ but we cannot argue the case for that the Bahamas are more luxurious than a small holiday resort on the Baltic coast. Unfair, illogical comparisons! And some of us may actually prefer the Baltic States over a long distance voyage to the Caribbean and rightly so as both destinations are fantastic – taste was, and always will be a personal choice.

Having had touched down in three very different European nations in an equally very short period of time (Austria, the southern part of Cyprus and the United Kingdom) during March, April and May of this year I am however in a position to write about my entirely personal comparative analysis so to speak. In particular as for me Turkey belongs to Europe- we are one, I am not dividing Turkey into parts or halves or quarters; it is a one nation, a proud and successful one nation state. And we share so much, we have so much in common indeed.

Moving on to hard talk, money matters wise.

If I would take my wife for a nice meal, starters, mains, sweets, plus two single measure drinks each, in a non-luxurious but nevertheless perfect quality setting in Vienna we recently paid around 50 Euros. At today’s exchange rates that turns out to be just under 200 Turkish Liras.

If I go shopping at Piccadilly Circus visiting a well-known chemists brand I would have to fork out 10 Pound Sterling for one single tube of toothpaste and five Gillette’s man’s razor blades (!) A pint near Hyde Park set me back a fiver, each time; hence these were very limited ‘may I have one more, please’ occasions. I did not win the jackpot whilst being back home. Currently a UK fiver translates into almost 25 TL.

Finally, sitting in a fine Larnaca (southern Cyprus) restaurant and having a waterfront meal for one, same formula as in Vienna as we had for two but of course varying ingredients, I did pay just under 18 Euros.

Hotels: Vienna nothing really nice below the 80 Euros mark, London nothing below the 80 Pound threshold either (if at all) yet in Larnaca good quality can be had for 60 Euros, very good quality as it was. I know these are snapshots, chosen at random. Yet there is a pattern, believe me.

The further north you travel in Europe the more expensive are everyday items including eating out or spending a night away from home. The closer you come to the Mediterranean or Aegean shores whilst the quality does not drop the price levels would. Turkey as a case in point, always comparing only good quality outlets (three stars) and products and services:A meal for two, same composition, 140 Turkish Liras or 35 Euros (close to where we all live on our shared Aegean coasts); toiletries essentials (same as above): 15 Turkish Liras (3.75 Euros). Accommodation: same standards 150 Turkish Liras (37.5 Euros).

A remarkable difference assuming I bought exactly the same product or service; of course a different restaurant name, a different hotel name but in principal exactly the same type of service I had asked for.

Now you as our esteemed readers may rightly tell me, Klaus, remove your rose tinted glasses. But dare I reply – no need: I know that wages in the hospitality sector in Turkey are not as of yet at a desired level but then again almost everyone I know who works in the same sector in Britain must make ends meet on a tiny minimum wage, too! No tips, no decent after work life.

So, after all, same service, product and always assuming that the location attracts you in a similar manner: Turkey most definitely tops my and an ever growing number of holiday-goers list.These data quoted above are for individual travelers. If we compare all-inclusive packages Turkey once more would be on top of the quality/price ranking, often including return flights when compared with other southerly destinations.

The one thing however money cannot buy is quality of life and personal happiness on location. In this context and when comparing fellow European destinations with Turkey this fine nation occupies pole position in a league of her own! Is it only my personal commentator’s view? I do not think so – just take a look around at all the people you see and meet and pass by and then ask yourself why is everyone is having a smile on their sun tanned faces… because we are here, in Kuşadası, in Turkey! Enjoy!

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