It’s 7am right now and I’m sitting at a busstation waiting for my bus. This is the first moment in weeks that I’m alone and I’m trying to get grip on the rollercoaster I’ve been into from the moment I arrived. Turkey has amazed me more than any country I’ve been to so far.
For me, the one thing that makes a trip valuable is the people you meet. Travelling is amazing, but after spending a few months on the road, you start realising that every mosque is just a mosque and every historical building is similar in a way. So for me, travelling stays exciting because everything you see and do gets coloured by the people you meet on the way.
View over the bay in Fethiye.
Most travel guides advice you to get in contact with ‘the locals’ (I really don’t like this term, since it draws such a clear distinction between ‘them’ and you). But sometimes it’s difficult to get in contact with the local population, either because you’re travelling as a tourist and stay in your hotel, or because the local population is more distant. Well, nothing is easier than becoming friends with the Turks.
I still can’t really get my head around how these things have happened so far. Because of the low season, most hostels are empty, so I prefer couchsurfing to have some company. The only time I therefore spent alone is the time on the bus. But once I arrive at the busstation, the next host is waiting for me already, which leads to new amazing adventures.
For example, I went paragliding, just because I love adventures. Just before we ran off the mountain, me and my pilot had a chat and I told him I was looking for a ride to the next city (because buses are constantly delayed, I decided to give alternative means of transportation a go again. Though I wouldn’t recommend hitchhiking alone here). And within 5 minutes it was all arranged: I had a super fast ride that saved me 2,5 hours in buses, I met with a great guy who even invited me to stay at his house and took me paragliding again the next day! How often did you experience that people offer free paragliding trips?
I know that everyone’s thinking right now: ‘yeah sure, it’s pretty easy to stay at a guy’s house’. And that’s true, it is. But it’s not with bad intentions that people invite you. At least, not from what I’ve experienced.
Last night, a friend of mine described 3 characteristics of Turks: they all have a beard, they all smoke and they all think they can do anything. I agree that they’re all hairy and smoke way too much, but I would never use these characteristics to describe Turkish people. To me, they are extremely friendly, open and will do anything they can to help you out.
What’s better than drinking Turkish coffee with your new friends?
Hospitality here doesn’t just end by offering a bed or a ride. It means that whenever you’re someone’s guest, they’ll take care of you as if you’re a queen or a long lost daughter. I’ve met people who gave me a spare blackberry they had, who told me I could use their mini cooper for the day (I love mini coopers, but I was too scared to crash this one), and who paid everything for me during my stay. And no matter how hard you insist, they won’t let you pay.
It seems that every time I had a perfect adventure, I walk into someone who has been able to topple this experience. All these new friendships and amazing experiences only leave me with an extremely rich and blessed feeling. There’s only one week left in Turkey and I’m really looking forward to what’s going to happen.
Btw, couchsurfing in Turkey works like crazy. I usually post a public trip to see who has a spare couch. But in Bursa I received 50 invitations in only a few days! After this, I started posting my trips for a few hours and take them offline again, because the amount of responses is overwhelming. I have to admit though that this doesn’t work this crazy for men. But again, I’ve only had a million positive experiences so far.
I don’t like posting pictures of other people’s faces, so you’ll need to wait for that ;).