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Arrývýng ýn Turkey - Trabzond & Erzerum

by samarkand (8/3/2009)

Arriving in Turkey - Trabzond & Erzerum

Coming from the East as I have, there is one word that comes to my mind - MORE.

O.K. it´s straight to a biggish cýty so these observations may change as I travel further in the country.

But more - more people, more activity, many more shops, more modern, more noise, more European!

When I arrived ýn Istanbul from London four years ago it was the scent and sights of the East that I picked up, when I arrived ýn Southern Turkey from Syria thirty five years ago it was more of an ´Azerbaijan´ experience - I felt people were unaccustomed to a foreigner in town and were almost rude. I remember a queue of people in the road outside my hotel watching me brush my teeth!! This týme, in just three days I have been the recipient of some incredible kindnesses -asking people directýons and they practically take me to where I want to go, a man in a cafe today paying for my tea, another stranger coming past me in a cafe and saying ´Affýyet Olsun´ and so on.

I have got to be careful not to move too quickly! I only spent two days in Trabzond because it was very stýcky and I dýdn´t like staying in a hotel in the red light area- too noýsy!! I am now in Erzerum and just watched a programme from Trabzond where it was showýng the kind of place I like going to (a Sufý tomb!) whých wasn´t in my Lonely Planet book along with the wonderful scenery in the mountains if you bother to take those routes! Erzerum is much quieter than Trabzond but what I said about the commercial actývýty still holds (when comparing Turkey with the other countries I have been through).

I have actually been engaged in some commercial activity myself. I thought I would be very clever and send a couple of packages home thus lessening the load in my rucksack and the need to even think about taking taxis. Within two hours I had been talked into buying a (very beautiful) Kurdish carpet, thus increasýng the load ýn my bag!

Some observations from Erzerum. Yesterday evenýng I just tried to stand at the side of the main road ýn town and watch. Near me a street seller (sweet corn, steam rising ýnto the air) and a couple of shoe shýners; ýn front of me a wýldly decorated pair of horses and a carrýage draws up; past me walk men arm in arm, familýes arm ýn arm, women wearing scarves, women wearing týght trousers; behýnd me the park and the sounds of traditional lýve musýc. I go and listen to the music later. It is my thýrd evenýng in the town. This týme I sit closer to the group (three young men) - I have come to like theýr musýc more and more especially the ýnstrumental parts. The singing jars my European ears at times but then at other times it becomes almost ethereal and enchantýng. There are not many others sitting watching as it has been raining and it is quite cold. I take to giving them my solýtary clapping and then later go and thank them and give them a small tip.


Note - to those unaccustomed to Turkish keyboards - the ´ý´ ýs where the normal ´i´ goes and the @ symbol requýres a totally different operation!


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