During this past weekend, most of us took two trips to the Asian side of Turkey. The first took place on Saturday, where most took a ferry ride across the Bosporus, the strait that separates Europe and Asia. The view from the ferry was absolutely spectacular. The mostly calm water was a deep blue color, and the sun glimmered against the surface of the sea. Once across the strait, the groups split up. Some were served Turkish coffee in ornate bronze cups, with a side of Turkish delight. Others found a cemetery with Arabic script adorning the headstones, as stray cats dozed in the grass below. And others walked along the coast eating locally produced strawberries.
On Sunday, the entire group took a bus trip to the Black Sea and the small town of Şile. The weather started off cloudy, but the skies opened up in the afternoon, which made for a wonderful day of swimming in the waves and reading on the sand. In the afternoon, we took a walk into Şile, where we ate in small, quaint restaurants overlooking the beach. We returned to the seaside carrying our chocolate-dipped gelato down the stone steps. The past week has been truly incredible, and hopefully the next months will be just as eye-opening and enjoyable.
Overall, the Asian side of Turkey is much like the European side, albeit a bit cozier and cheaper. The brick sidewalks and the narrow alleyways give the city a more local feel. It gives a glimpse into day-to-day life in Turkey, rather than the tourist spectacle or the academic setting we’ve been accustomed to. There are crowds, to be sure, but the Asian side thus far has shown us a place where people live and work rather than cater to tourists flocking to the famous sights of the city with their cameras and disposable income. Our experiences on the other side of the Bosporus, like our teatime at Sarap’s house, have shown us the residential part of Turkey, and perhaps a more genuine Turkish atmosphere, far different than the pictures on postcards and travel mugs.
That’s what’s new with TIME 2012. Have a great Monday, and thank you for reading!