The further east I headed, the harsher the circumstances became. The climate changed significantly from being quite comfortable and sunny to extremely cold (-5 during the day). Therefore, ‘warm became the new sexy’. The best investment of this trip was a pair of super warm and comfortable (yet not really sexy boots). I once saw and advertisement saying that being cold is a choice. So my daily outfit contains almost everything I have in my backpack. But who cares, deodorant is the new way of doing laundry ;).
Yet, the cold isn’t that bad. I kind of like the extra dimension it gives to my trip. I’m seeing spectacular winter wonderlands and when you want to warm up with a cay (tea), people will always invite you to come and sit next to the wood fire.
These cold conditions also resulted in quite funny situations. Because what do you do if you’re couchsurfing and you both can’t sleep because it’s extremely cold? Yup, you share all the blankets you have and sleep as closely together as comfortable. Even though you just met the person. It’s a super fast way of becoming friends ;). Haha travelling makes a person very flexible.
It sounds weird, but after having done this for 2 weeks, I was exhausted of all the fun, short nights and social interactions. So I booked a hostel in Cappadocia. And for the first time during my trip I felt lonely! So after sleeping 11 hours a night and enjoying a warm room (and an outdoor shower while it’s freezing outside), I quickly looked for another couchsurfer… and the fun continued.
My blogs have always been very positive, not because I don’t want to show the negative side, but just because I like it so much here. Yet not everything’s always great of course. For instance, I spend Christmas day in the bus to Ankara. Not really great, though I have to admit that I’d almost forgotten it was Christmas, because it’s not celebrated here. But knowing that all your friends and family are together at home made me feel like I was missing out. Yet I still don’t regret my trip, and so a simple consequence was that I wouldn’t be at home during Christmas or New Year.
As always, the highlights of your trip are not necessarily the most spectacular things you’ve seen. In Turkey, my absolute nr 1 is all the people I’ve met and new friends I made here. So if I can give you one advice: say ‘yes’ whenever people invite you for something (ok, sometimes you still need to use common sense). Some people plan everything on their trip, I’m awfully bad at planning ahead. To the extend that for this trip I didn’t even have a lonely planet (the bible for every backpacker). I’d watched ‘3 op reis’, a Dutch travel programme with a few short videos on Turkey and checked visa regulations, some travel blogs and the dress code for Iran. That was about all my preparations for this trip. But for Turkey this lack of preparation worked out pretty well, I would even recommend not planning too much and just see what happens. Be open for new adventures, because Turkey is an excellent place for it.
My nr 2 favorite moment was actually a very normal moment. I was walking to Ephesus, a UNESCO historical site. It was in the morning, the air was still foggy, yet the sun was breaking through and the smell of woodfires was still in the air after a cold night. This was such a peaceful and happy moment. Life slows down when you’re travelling and during this walk I remembered how blessed I am that I’m able to make trips like these. I know, I’ve made many trips and do super exciting things, but sometimes just the small and normal things are the most enjoyable.
Same for this morning, I was in Ankara in the Kocatepe mosque, a massive mosque (seriously, enormous. There’s even a shopping mall and parking lot beneath the mosque).
I was here during the prayer times (usually they ask tourists to leave, but somehow they didn’t). I just sat down for a while, while people around me were praying. There was so much peace here and it was beautiful and special to see the ceremony.
Another thing I would really recommend is the whirling dervishes in Konya. Konya isn’t a touristic place and everyone adviced me to skip it (actually same for Ankara, but don’t listen to them, because both Konya and Ankara are worth the visit). The only reason why I initially came to Konya was to break my 14 hour busride from Fethiye to Cappadocia. Which is probably why I liked Konya so much, because I wasn’t expecting anything. But instead of staying for 1 night, I stayed 3! Partly because of a great couchsurfer where I felt completely at home and because I needed a break in my travels. But also, the dervishes’ ceremony had something mystical. I could look to it for 1,5 hours and was still intrigued. Note: the whirling dervishes’ show is only on Saturdays at 19.00h.
My trip in Turkey has come to an end and I’m feeling a bit confused about it. On the one hand I’m really excited (and slightly scared) about going to Iran. On the other hand, I enjoyed Turkey so much more than I thought I would. It’s sad to leave a country where you enjoyed every single minute you had. I’m quite sure I’ll come back to Turkey.
Ok, I’m heading to Iran! See you soon and don’t freak out when you don’t hear from me; facebook and some other apps are blocked.
Ps. For some people my way of travelling is already far out of their comfort zone, but I’m looking for ways to spice up (spicify) my trips. Anyone aware of travel competitions or any new challenges?