‘Travel makes you modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.’ What French author Gustave Flaubert once said is so true. With one add-on if I may, of course with all required modesty to stay in his literary picture; in the case of the Republic of Turkey one would be forgiven to say ‘travel makes you a happy person, too!’
Thinking of packing your toothbrush and embark on a Turkey fact-finding mission? Planning to pack a little more and spend the entire summer season amongst us? Or are you perhaps in the process of a complete relocation venture ready to be moving here for good?
Then please read on as this is what this first article of 2017 is all about: does coming here make sense regardless of for longer or shorter?
Travelers me and my family are for sure, call us modern day nomads to get a better insight into a seemingly never-ending story of hellos and farewells and hellos again, and in more than one fine country.
That said here we are again: as it so happened I have been spending the past few months away from Kusadasi and Turkey. My wife was exploring career options in Europe as she works in a very specialized industry niche sector in which securing a job is at best comparable to playing the lottery hence looking across borders has become a must… So I took over as her amateur tour guide to make even her temporary settling in a little easier as I know Austria very well and speak the language, too.
Yet as life has a tendency to keep its little surprises in store for us soon after her arrival a business in Turkey had invited her to accompany a delegation of foreign experts back to Ankara. Thus written it is only fair to say if I kindly ask you to bear with me regarding hearing news about my family’s fixed abode(s) in a year’s time from now or so; I shall keep you duly posted with only one thing guaranteed – I am back in Kusadasi later during March!
Am I looking forward to it? Sure! Absence makes the heart grow fonder. But journalists need a crystal clear look at current events (and not a crystal ball!) in order to decide about a particular issue, or as is the case with this column, a particular country. You evaluate items taken from a rather extensive list of topics before coming to a conclusion. Being outside of Turkey, I probably never ever had realized how much I actually appreciate the nation in which I have lived for twelve years to be precise. You would be forgiven for cheerful anticipation when flying back home, or at least to a continent you still call home, and granted, for the first one or two weeks everything away from Turkey seems simply perfect. Food and meals and drinks you had no opportunity to indulge in for so long; the language you only seldom heard or spoke; the history, the buildings, the smells and sounds. New colleagues, perhaps one day friends! A different climate and everyone goes skiing for weekend fun. Yes, there was this lure of the good old home.
However when I started reading local media (actually, media and TV programs from a fair number of central European countries) I started to reflect upon whether their constant Turkey bashing is correct or wrong. I felt intimidated myself feeling all off a sudden more ‘adopted Turkish’ than ever before.
Was I perhaps in the wrong boat constantly defending modern Turkey, a nation which has endured so many upheavals in its past but always came out on top and even more so after last year’s so luckily failed coup attempt blocked by the proud Turkish people themselves?
Was I perhaps in the wrong boat constantly telling people that all those negative headlines you are fed with day in day out do not make sense to me, and from what I hear from friends and family back here in Turkey, do not make any sense to the vast majority of Turks either?
No, the boat could not be any more the correct vessel for this commentator. And thus off my chest allow me to share my thoughts with you what would I do if I would have not as of yet set foot on Turkish soil but would be a novice. Would I travel to Turkey now, this season?
I would and let me give you three simple yet honest reasons.
1 Every nation has to deal with problems from time to time. Think economy, a natural disaster or so heinous, a terror attack. But this does not result in you and me no longer walking down Oxford Street or taking an elevator up the Eiffel Tower. So why shun Antalya or Kusadasi or Istanbul or… Like other nations Turkey will overcome those minor or major matters.
2 Turkey is an enterprising country where soon everything will be brand-new, ranging from high-speed trains to 5-star hotels everywhere to new hospitals, schools… It is a place where sun meets wind meets mountains paired with this so contagious interest in all things new, modern, fast (yet safe, too). Sorry to be so direct, but if a fading seaside town where most B&B’s are reserved for welfare recipients instead of paying guests in whatever European country is your cup of holidaymaker’s tea, great. But if luxury at so affordable prices in a glamorous or more local setting is what you are after – look no further, Turkey it is.
3 Last not least, the Turkish people. In a dictionary the word hospitality could be redefined, or substituted by ‘Turkey’. We see hardworking staff plus ever improving services; friendly, smiling folk, too! Always in for a chat with a new arrival; no looking down, asking questions for the sake of fake conversation – genuine interest in our, your well-being.
Would I pack anything from a toothbrush or more to jet off? Honestly, I would. And I will, again and again and again. Probably soon for another extended spell, another 12 years perhaps even. (Copyright disclaimer: Flaubert quote lifted from www.goodreads.com)